Tags: Russia | fracking | Russia | Putin | Gazprom | Romania | natural gas

Putin Suspected in Anti-Fracking Protests so Russian Gas Keeps Selling

By    |   Monday, 01 December 2014 04:26 PM

To "green" activists, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his government are anything but friendly to environmental protection. During his tenure, the Kremlin has amassed a long record of harassing and incarcerating environmentalists on questionable charges.

But on the subject of fracking, Putin sometimes sounds like an environmentalist. Last year, he called fracking "a huge environmental problem" and said that where it occurs, people "no longer have water coming out of their taps, but a blackish slime," according to The New York Times.

Pro-Moscow separatists in eastern Ukraine — which is thought to be home to large reserves of shale gas — denounce it as a mortal threat. RT, a state-run Russian channel, has provided blanket coverage of anti-fracking protests in Romania, accompanied by warnings that villagers and their cattle would die from poisoned water if a fracking project went forward.

Opponents allege that Moscow and Gazprom, Russia's state-controlled energy giant, are behind protests against Chevron's efforts to forge ahead with exploratory shale gas drilling in Pungesti, an impoverished village in eastern Romania, the Times reported.

The project quickly became a "nightmare," the Times said, with anti-fracking activists from across Romania descending on Pungesti and violent clashes erupting between protesters and police. The mayor, who sided with Chevron, was run out of town.

"Russia, as part of their sophisticated information and disinformation operations, engaged actively with so-called nongovernmental organizations — environmental organizations working against shale gas — to maintain dependence on imported Russian gas," NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said before stepping down in September.

Thus far, Russia's critics have presented no definitive evidence of such a plot. But in the wake of Putin's annexation of Crimea and his aggressive stance in Ukraine, suspicions are growing that Gazprom has a clear interest in sabotaging the efforts of nations dependent on Russian natural gas to develop alternate sources of energy, according to the Times.

In the case of Romania, fracking supporters point to the fact that although a Gazprom subsidiary has been looking for shale gas and oil in the country, its work has triggered none of the angry protests that have resulted from Chevron's exploration efforts in Pungesti. The company's work site there is empty, and the firm has not said whether it is pulling out of Romania altogether.

In September, Texas Railroad Commissioner David Porter sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry alleging that Gazprom was behind a propaganda campaign against fracking in the United States and the European Union.

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Opponents of Russian President Vladimir Putin allege that Moscow and Gazprom, Russia's state-controlled energy giant, are behind protests against Chevron's efforts to forge ahead with exploratory shale gas drilling in eastern Romania.
fracking, Russia, Putin, Gazprom, Romania, natural gas, exploratory drilling
Monday, 01 December 2014 04:26 PM
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