Germany Could Outlaw Fracking Until 2021: Ministers

July 7, 2014

Germany could ban fracking until at least 2021 and strictly regulate the use of any such technology in future under policy proposals drawn up by the economy and environment ministers.

Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks in a letter laid out government plans to outlaw hydraulic fracturing above a depth of 3,000 metres (9,800 feet) for the next seven years.

Fracking is a technique in which water is injected at very high pressure into a wellbore to fracture deep-rock formations and extract deposits of natural gas and oil.

Germany's reserves of shale oil and gas are shallower than 3,000 metres.

It remains highly controversial in Germany because of concerns it can contaminate water supplies and damage the environment.

In a policy paper sent to lawmakers in their Social Democratic Party, a copy of which was obtained by AFP, Gabriel and Hendricks insisted that they "take people's concerns very seriously".

"What we want is for this debate to be carried out rationally on the basis of scientifically verified information. Protection of health and water has absolute priority," it stated.

Copyright, AFP, 2014.