Romania Update: Protests Continue as Chevron Restarts Fracking Exploration

pungesti-tvr-1 9th December  Protests against Chevron’s activity in Silistea – Pungesti, northeastern Romanian, area escalated on Saturday, December 6, triggering the American oil and gas company to suspend its activity on site.

Protesters destroyed the fence Chevron had built around the 20,000 – sqm land plot at the village outskirts. One day later, however, Chevron re-started their activity on site.

Protests were staged downtown in capital city Bucharest as well, with a peak registered on Sunday evening (December 7), when three protesters were taken into custody by the gendarmes.

Silistea – Pungesti has now been declared a special area for public security, with authorities implementing special measures against violence including placing gendarmes all around the village, according to Romanian media, which has been following the topic all throughout last weekend.

The gendarmes have been checking the documents of everyone visiting the village while villagers have complained of the intrusion, saying gendarmes were in front of every house asking people of their whereabouts.

The group of protesters in Pungesti, some 400 people, were a mix of locals and ecology activists from Iaşi, Bucureşti, Braşov and Sibiu. They initially protested peacefully, but the protest became violent as some of them began throwing stones into Chevron’s vehicles, and tearing down the fence surrounding the exploration site. Footage from the Pungesti protests, here.

Meanwhile, Chevron has again stated that all exploration activities will use conventional technologies based on the permits it received in the beginning of October. “We respect people’s right to express their opinion, but we believe this should be done within the limits of the law,” Chevron wrote in an official statement. The company had started its activity on site in Silistea – Pungesti on December 2, after a first delay earlier in October, also because of local protests.

The protests against exploration for shale case was triggered by concerns that exploration would be harmful to the environment, and coincided with protests against gold mining in Central Romania, at Rosia Montana, where the planned used of cyanide also caused concern.