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Shale gas production in Ukraine can cause irreparable damage to environment

February 11, 2013, 18:51 UTC+3

The production sharing agreement leaves many “open questions” for experts and the general public

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KIEV, February 11 (Itar-Tass) – Commercial shale gas production in Ukraine can cause irreparable damage to the environment, the head of the Ukrainian Ecological League, Tatyana Timochko, said.

The Ukrainian company Nadra Yuzovskaya and Royal Dutch Shell signed a production sharing agreement with regard to shale gas production in the Yuzovskoye field in the Kharkov and Donetsk regions.

Timochko said at a roundtable discussion on Ukraine’s energy prospects held on Monday, February 11, that the agreement leaves many “open questions” for experts and the general public.

She said, citing findings by Ukrainian scientists from the National Academy of Sciences, that it would take an area of about two hectares to drill just one well.

According to the expert, this will mean stripping the area “down to clay” in order to get a stable solid surface for process equipment, whereupon “thousands of hectares of fertile land will be ruined irrecoverably”.

“This technology of underground hydraulic reservoir fracturing] requires 5,000 to 20,000 cubic metres of water mixed with chemicals to be pumped down to a depth of 3-5 kilometres, with only 20-25 percent of this water coming back to the surface afterwards,” she said.

After passing through radioactive rock, the water mixed with rocks, clay, sand and chemicals will come back to the surface, but it is not known how it will be recycled,” Timochko said.

“This water will get back to the surface and then what? It’s nothing like the Marcellus Formation in America where the public forced [the authorities] to build a plant for recycling this mass only 15 years later. Until then it was dumped into the desert, into some pits there. But density [of population] there where the Marcellus Formation is, is 2 persons per square kilometers, while in the Kharkov and Donetsk regions it is 78-84,” she said.

Timochko stressed that “there is simply no place to dump this solution” in Ukraine. “All this dirt will stay on the surface and will poison surface water,” she warned.

She also spoke of possible consequences of shale gas production in areas where coal was or still is mined.

“Mines have already created manmade faults and if hydraulic fracturing starts, the degree of ground shaking will increase. These are manmade earthquakes that the British spoke of and that forces them to stop shale gas production in England,” Timochko said.

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