Dear deputies, dear Lviv region community!
We ask you to pay attention to the menacing environmental catastrophe that is already on our threshold. By this we mean the permit to develop shale gas in the territory of Ukraine.
Shale gas is natural gas located mostly in soft shale rock with wide branching of fissures. Gas companies extract gas from hard rock at the depth of several kilometers. They apply the technology of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing of layers: big amounts of water, sand and chemicals mixture are injected into the well, which causes great pressure and fractures the rock. Gas is released and it can be extracted. However, it is hard to pump up to the surface the mixture of water and chemicals. Usually half of his highly toxic fluid remains in the well. That is why in the area of shale gas extraction artesian water can bear deadly threat.
This technology is called “fracking”. Actually such activity can be considered an environmental crime, and if it is to be carried out in densely populated area, it is genocide.
The experience shows that contaminated water causes higher risk of cancer with humans and death of domestic and wild animals. When contaminated water from underground gets into surface water, it kills all life in rivers. The threat disseminates over the whole territory of a river water intake where a gas deposit is developed. This means that even those who do not live in close vicinity to the well face the threat of fatal diseases. The corporations failed to inform Ukrainian citizens about this. But they cannot fool people of the USA any more, which is proved by mass protests of communities in the US against shale gas development in the US. The statement about general support by US citizens for shale gas development in the territory of the US is a myth of the authorities-supported media in Ukraine .
Three companies – Chevron, Exxon Mobil and Shell – signed the agreement on shale gas development in Ukraine.
Shell and Chevron companies are world known as the biggest oil developing companies, the activity of which have caused environmental disasters in different countries.
One of the most serious environmental catastrophes is the one in Ecuador. More than 10 years lasted the litigation initiated by Ecuador against Chevron and the country won 18 billions dollars as compensation for the damage caused by the company to the environment and human health.
In May 2012, Chevron won the tender for a license for shale gas exploration in Olesko field. The Olesko deposit occupies a big part of Lviv region.
On 3 January 2013, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine approved the Product sharing agreement with Chevron, Shell and Exxon Mobil companies. This year deputies in Lviv and Ivano-Frankivsk regions have to vote for fracking in the region. Fracking brings a number of problems to Ukraine.
The problem number one – people’s health and pure drinking water. Ukraine is generally a densely populated country and everywhere where shale gas is planned to be extracted, cancer threat relates to much bigger number of people than in the USA. This is due to high probability of contamination of aquifers with toxic waste (with big radius of contamination around each well).
On the one hand, in Olesko field for drilling and well exploitation (injecting fluids into layers) vast amounts of water are needed while even now the water resources here are insufficient. On the other hand, big amounts of waste fluids after drilling and gas extraction should be dumped somewhere. The capacity of surface waters is limited by transboundry status of the Western Buh river, while for underground waters there are no enough injection wells with adequate intake capacity. The Olesko field contains the main water intakes for municipal water supply for all cities and towns of the northern part of the region including the city of Lviv as well as a number of functioning mineral water sources (for example, Oleska mineral water).
The goal of gas companies is to “squeeze” gas bubbles out of dense rock at the depth of several kilometers. In order to do this, they apply the technology of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing of layers – at the depth of the rock deposit, which is usually from 700 up to 3000 meters, a well is drilled and it is bifurcated into several branches. Before the drill reaches gas bearing layers located deeply underground, it can go though many aquifers. There is no guarantee that the toxic mixture will not get into underground waters. If this happens, underground waters in the whole aquifers will become toxic and will become unusable for household purposes. Although artesian water from deep layers was considered to be the purest and the best for drinking, now it can become a deadly threat.
Ukraine lacks environmental norms for majority of chemicals used in drilling, testing and exploitation of wells. The Ukrainian legislation prohibits using chemicals without approved environmental norms, while for horizontal drilling and wells exploitation for shale gas extraction toxic chemicals are indispensable. There is no information on chemicals to be used, no such information is released to the public.
The problem number two is related to utilization of drilling waste because both regions where unconventional gas is planned to be extracted lack polygons for burial of dozens of thousands of cubic meters of waste rock and sludge. When the waste rock and sludge are brought to the surface, they will contaminate soils.
The problem number three – devastation of natural territories.
The infrastructure needed for shale gas extraction using fracking method envisages construction of numerous wells, pools for cracking liquid, electricity lines, roads, etc. Wells are located at the distance of 150-200 meters one from the other. This means devastation of vast natural territories. Moreover, in view of the current situation with land ownership in Ukraine such gas infrastructure can be located only on natural territories since these are the only lands belonging to the state.The problem also touches upon our pearl of natural reserves – the Carpathian mountains.
The problem number four is about seismicity, geological instability and ecosystem balance of the regions. It is important that a part of Olesko field is characterized by high seismicity and serious tectonic instability and therefore fracking can have unpredictable consequences including violated stability of numerous sliding areas, impact on the state of engineering constructions, first of all of oil and gas pipelines. Application of fracking technology under above described conditions of tectonic instability can lead to loss of shielding properties of water-resistant layers and uncontrolled dissemination of fracking fluids and gases in geological environment.
Nobody asked us whether we want to live with such a danger. The state and the corporations neither held nor planned any referendum or public discussion. Neither the Lviv region community as a whole nor environmental NGOs got from the state or the corporations any answers to the questions coming from the expert report of the United States Agency for International Development on the study of potential environmental problems of shale gas development using the method of hydraulic fracturing in the Carpathian and the Dnipro-Donetsk basin:
- In what way are they going to prevent negative impact on agricultural lands of salts in underground waters in shale formations?
- If used waters are injected underground again, will this cause earthquakes as it was in Great Britain and the United State? Will these earthquakes cause contamination of drinking waters in aquifers?
- How serious will be the adverse impact on the quality of the air in the Carpathians of volatile organic compounds and other air pollutants? What further environmental degradation will the polluted Eastern regions of Ukraine face?
- How many trucks will pass through town and villages every hour carrying materials needed for the technological process? Who will pay for damage to the roads? How much pollution will these trucks cause?
- If the environmental legislation fails to work, what will be the risks for national parks, reserved areas and wild life?
- How much money will the government request from international companies as a “bond” to guarantee compensations for the damage and coverage of costs of closing down wells after all gas is extracted?
Instead of replies to these extremely important questions we are told that the impact on the environment will be known after we start extracting shale gas. This is equal to studying the impact of arsenic on well water by poisoning water in a well.
The whole world faces a powerful movement against shale gas extraction using fracturing method. In 2011 France, Sweden, Romania, Bulgaria and other countries imposed a termless moratorium on shale gas extraction recognizing it as a very dangerous environmental threat. On 22 September 2012, a global action against shale gas extraction “Global Frackdown” was held and was supported also by Kyiv environmental activists.
A number of European countries imposed a moratorium on using the technology of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for extraction of unconventional gases having experienced catastrophic consequences of such a method or realizing the high risk. In September 2012, the World Congress of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) adopted Motion 118 that calls on states to cease issuing licenses for gas exploitation using fracking method. The resolution asks states to forbid application of the method in the vicinity of drinking water sources, seismic faults and areas of conservation value.
There is also manipulation with information on shale gas as an alternative energy. Those who release truthful information about threats related to fracking are accused of lobbying interests of other states and Gasprom company because biased media present shale gas exploration as the way out of energy dependency on Russia.
A video proof of environmental crime called “fracking” (documentary film “Gasland”) can be watched here:
A video proof of standards of the companies and their attitude to the environment (documentary film Chevron: The Real Human Story in Ecuador) can be watched here:
In view of the above presented we demand that the Parliament of Ukraine impose an immediate moratorium on all shale gas development works in Ukraine.
For further information please contact
Executive director at EPL
Tel.: (+38032) – 225 – 76 – 82