Bulgarians protest against shale gas plans

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — Thousands of Bulgarians have urged the government to drop plans for shale gas exploration, fearing it could have a hazardous impact on the environment and on people’s health.

Protesters rallied in the capital, Sofia, and other major cities on Saturday pushing for a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, the technology used in obtaining underground shale gas.

Last June, Bulgaria granted U.S. oil company Chevron a permit to explore for shale gas in the northeastern part of the country. In this main grain producing region in Bulgaria, the potential reserves of shale gas are estimated at up to 1 trillion cubic meters.

Bulgaria, which is almost totally dependent on Russian gas supplies, has repeatedly said that it wants to diversify its energy sources, including with shale gas.

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