On May 23, 2013 the Administrative court of the city of Kyiv opened proceedings on the lawsuit filed by Environment-People-Law against the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine regarding limited access of the public to information regarding a product sharing agreement signed by the Government of Ukraine and Shell.
By this agreement, the Government vested investors with exclusive rights to conduct oil and gas activities including exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons, which are the property of the People of Ukraine, on a field as big as 1\4 of Belgium for the next 50 years. According to the agreement, the profit from these activities is to be divided between the Government of Ukraine, Shell and a brand new private Ukrainian company of an unknown origin.
For more than a year, the public of Eastern Ukraine actively protested against hydraulic fracturing combined with horizontal drilling (currently known as fracking) on their territories – the technology to be used to extract shale gas – reasonably fearing significant adverse impact of the environment and human health. Having disregarded ardent public protests and reservations laid down by well-established environmental NGOs, the Government entered into the agreement in January of 2013.
Moreover, having signed the text of the first shale agreement, the Government and the investors imposed confidentiality limitations on the text of the agreement itself as well as any other documents, information or data on oil and gas activity under the agreement, including any documents of public authorities on this issue. This is an answer anybody, who files a public information request to the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, the Ministry of Environment or State Service on Geology and Minerals, gets on shale agreement.
Environment-People-Law intend to challenge these acts of the Government. Classification of such information does not serve any interest, which according to the European Convention on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms and the Constitution of Ukraine can be a ground for legitimate limitation on access to information. Moreover, the text of the product sharing agreement apart from environmental information, which according to Ukrainian legislation shall always be open, contains many other data, which constitute a great public interest, and thus the right of the people of Ukraine to know this information overrides any possible interest in keeping it secret.
For the detailed information, please contact
Yelyzaveta Aleksyeyeva, senior lawyer with EPL at