Total's shale gas exploration has been stopped. Photo: Cathrine Ertmann/Scanpix
The Danish Energy Agency (Energistyrelsen) has put a stop to French gas giant Total’s controversial shale gas exploration in northern Jutland.
The agency ordered an immediate stop to drilling at the site after it was revealed that Total had used the chemical product Null Foam – used in the so-called fracking process to extract shale gas – in its exploration despite it not being approved as part of the local authorities’ environmental impact assessment (EIA).
"They used a product that was not part of those authorised" for the procedure, Ture Falbe-Hansen, a Danish Energy Agency spokesman told AFP.
"We have emphasised that the conditions stated in the drilling permit must be respected," said a director of the Danish Energy Agency, Martin Hansen, in a statement after a meeting with Total.
"We have also asked for an account of the sequence of events that occurred," he added.
Frederikshavn Council’s environmental committee chairman Anders Brandt Sørensen said Total’s use of the non-approved product “makes [him] very mad”.
“We will simply not accept this kind of violation of our EIA,” he told broadcaster DR.
Total said that Null Foam is a product used to reduce foam in order to protect its workers and claimed that its use had been discussed since the beginning.
“We have been in dialogue with both the council and the Energy Agency since February and we thought that we had a shared understanding that the chemical could be used,” company spokesman Henrik Nicolaisen told DR.
Total was granted approval to explore for shale gas in June despite strong protests from the local community and concerns from organizations including Greenpeace and the Danish Society of Nature Conservation.
The Frederikshavn City Council approved the exploration and if shale gas is found on the property, the company will then explore the possibility of extracting the shale gas through fracking, the pumping of pressurized, chemical-laden water into underground rock layers.
Denmark is one of the few European countries alongside Britain, Poland and Romania that allows fracking, which is widely used in the United States, contributing to the country's burgeoning oil and natural gas production.
Last month the German government proposed new rules to restrict fracking, citing environmental and public health concerns.