Chevron: Fracking

Chevron currently extracts shale gas in several regions (China, USA, Canada, Argentina, and Eastern Europe) using the controversial method of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”).[1]

The fracking process taps natural gas and other underground resources that would be otherwise unreachable by traditional means of extraction. The process involves shooting highly pressurized water, silica sand, and some 596 chemicals (arsenic, radioactive material, etc.) into the ground creating horizontal fractures in the earth´s crust that release and channel resources into horizontal wells and storage tanks.[2] Leaks are frequent and research shows that shale gas´s “climate advantage” over coal will eventually disappear. Hydraulic fracking raises several environmental concerns, in particular, the possibility that chemicals and released substances from the fracking process could contaminate groundwater.[3] Water used for hydraulic fracturing endangers employees, the public, and the environment if not properly decontaminated and disposed of. Many claim that groundwater contamination is already occurring in regions that permit fracking. Health conditions stemming from this type of water contamination range from mild dizziness, headaches, and asthma to cancer and permanent brain damage.[4]

France has already outlawed hydraulic fracking. Other countries, like Lithuania, have imposed environmental regulations.[5] [6]

According to Lech Kowalski´s documentary, Drill Baby Drill, companies frequently dump contaminated wastewater from hydraulic fracking into community fields and streams as an alternative to paying for wastewater treatment. Employees who do not comply with the practice risk losing their jobs.[7]

Chevron began extracting shale gas in Poland in 2012. Residents in the community of Żurawlów protested against drilling in their district. The company failed to adequately inform landowners of the consequences of extraction. Chevron´s seismic research in the area caused houses to crack; the repetitive explosions also contaminated local water.[8] In Otyn, Poland, drilling activities caused a local church to collapse.[9] Several communities have complained to the European Commission claiming that the company´s Polish operations are not in accordance with EU standards regarding environmental destruction and public participation.[10] However, the EC pointed to the responsibility of the Memeber States in such matters. [11]

Opposition is also building to Chevron’s shale gas ambitions in Argentina where local communities, the Mapuche, claim Chevrons deal is illegal as they, the local community, were not consulted. Protests have already taken place in opposition. [12]

[1] Chevron: Where We Operate. Developing Natural Gas From Shale Rock. July 2013; accessed 12.09.2013

[2] Plumer, B. (2012): Can the problems with fracking be fixed? The Washington Post, 28 February; accessed 23.09.2013

[3] Journalist Resource (2013): Fracking, shale gas and health effects. Research roundup, 23 September; accessed 23.09.2013

[4] Josh Fox (2010): Gasland, Documentary, Light House Entertainment.

[5] Tara Patel (2011): France Vote Outlaws “Fracking” Shale for Natural Gas, Oil Extraction, Bloomberg, 1 July; accessed 23.09.2013

[6] Bryan Bradley (2013): Lithuania Amends Shale-Gas Laws Ahead of Possible Chevron Deal, Bloomberg, 30 May; accessed 23.09.2013

[7] Lech Kowalski (2013): Drill Baby Drill, Documentary; accessed 23.09.2013

[8] Occupy Chevron Poland (2013): Solidarity of Warsaw with Żurawlów. We are with you on your struggle against Chevron, 25 June; accessed 23.09.2013

[9] Marek Kryda (2013): W holenderskiej TV – gaz łupkowy i walące się polskie kościoły, 27 June; accessed 23.09.2013

[10] European Parliament (2013): Parliamentary Questions. Subject:  Chevron Poland’s violations of the law and of the property rights and civic rights of owners of farm land in the village of Żurawlów, 20 June, accessed 23.09.2013

[11] Answer given by Mr Potočnik on behalf of the Commission, 19 July 2013; accessed 23.09.2013

[12] Gilbert, J. (2014): In Argentina, enormous fracking potential and opposition to match; 9 June, accessed 12.10.2014

Case location
Żurawlów, Poland
Poland


Affected topics
  • Environmental and Climate protection
Directly and indirectly (through shareholding) involved companies

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