“NO to F(r)acking” – an activist exchange between FYEG and Mladi zeleni

In January 2012 after many protests in Bulgaria, the government passed a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in natural gas and oil exploration and extraction. This is not the case however in other countries in Europe such as Romania. All over Europe Greens are uniting their efforts to ban shale gas bores and fracking, and bind the EU countries to invest in renewable energy. The aim of the FYEG activist exchange in Bulgaria was to raise awareness about the danger of using the fracking technology, and to make a study visit of a couple of towns and villages, where currently there is an extraction of natural gas and oil (not by the method of fracking )

The Activist exchange “NO to Fracking” took place 25-27th April. It gathered around 15 activists from Bulgaria (Mladi Zeleni), Macedonia (MODOM), Serbia (Zelena Omladina) as well as experts from the Citizens’ Initiative for banning exploration and extraction of shale gas by the method of hydraulic fracturing. The first day the activists met in Sofia, where they got to know each other, learned about the FYEG campaign “Reclaim Europe”, shared their experience and knowledge on the topic of fracking, and had an expert input on fracking by Ivan Mastikov, former employee in the Ministry of Environment and Water, and a member of the Green party.

The second day the activists went in Lukovit, a town in Northern Bulgaria.  Currently in Lukovit, there is an exploration and extraction of natural gas and oil. There the activists did a street action to show the danger of fracking. They spread leaflets on the topic, and talked with the local people about the gas and oil drilling in the region. Later on a public debate on the topic was organized. The attendants were the activists and local people. Special guests were Mariana Hristova and Borislav Subev from the Citizens’ Initiative for banning exploration and extraction of shale gas by the method of hydraulic fracturing. The experts held a presentation followed by an active discussion between activists, experts and local attendants. The day finished with watching the movie Gasland 2.

The last day of the activist exchange, the activists visited the gas and oil drilling facilities in Dolni Lukovit, Devinci and Vraca. They discussed with the local people the negative effect of the gas and oil drilling process, and gave brochures on the topic. We found out that in Devinci after the 3rd gas drilling the drinking water seemed to be already polluted. Many of the people in the village have to buy drinkable water or use another water source, that is not near the place of gas and oil extraction. An interesting fact was that near the gas and oil drilling facilities, there were no bees. In Dolni Lukovit we were not let to go near the drilling facilities. The employees there refused to give us any information on the company that hired them. There were no labels near the facilities explaining, what is been worked on there.

In the North-East region of Bulgaria there are projects for future gas and oil drilling. This region is one of the largest agricultural area in Bulgaria, supplying more than a half of the national wheat production. The FYEG activist exchange gave us the opportunity to learn a lot about fracking, but also it was a start for future European cooperation on the topic. Furthermore it enabled us to campaign on local level, and raise awareness among people, that they are the ones, who can stop the plans of big companies to do gas and oil drilling near their homes. They are the ones, who can start the transition to renewable energy.

More pictures could be found HERE