The German environment minister has said the extraction of natural gas using so-called fracking technology wouldn't start any time soon in Germany. He has announced that laws will be stiffened rather than softened.
Germany's center-right government was working on new laws governing the use of so-called fracking technology in natural gas extraction, seeking to close existing legislative loopholes, German environment minister Peter Althaus said Monday.
"The message is that we aim to limit the use of fracking rather than facilitating it," he told public radio broadcaster Deutschlandfunk.
Altmaier also said that he couldn't see fracking being used anywhere in Germany in the foreseeable future, and that he wouldn't advise anyone to seek a drilling license soon.
The statement followed German media reports at the weekend suggesting the conservative-led government of Chancellor Angela Merkel was seeking to push through softer rules for using the controversial technology.
Hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, frees natural gas from shale by injecting a well with chemically treated water and sand. The technology has led to a boom in natural gas extraction in the United States. However, critics argue it pollutes groundwater and increases seismic risks.
Berlin was planning to impose a total ban on fracking in drinking water drainage areas, Altmaier said, and would make environmental impact assessment obligatory for a company seeking drilling license.
According to figures released by the government, Germany boasts shale gas reserves of 2.3 trillion cubic meters (81.2 trillion cubic feet) - a volume that could cover German natural gas needs for about a decade.
uhe/dr (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)