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Industry minister backs shale gas

Arnaud Montebourg seeks to change President Hollande's mind over ban on fracking on French soil

THE French industry minister, Arnaud Montebourg, has said he is trying to "convince" François Hollande to overturn a ban on experimental drilling for shale gas.

The minister last week appeared to show his support for the shale gas industry and of the need to develop shale gas exploration. Hollande last year banned all drilling for it on French soil.

A recent American study estimated France may have some four trillion square metres of shale gas and five billion barrels of shale oil, that are extractable.

Meawhile, the chief executive of French oil giant Total has welcomed a decision by the European Commission not to impose an outright ban on the experimental drilling for shale gas.

Brussels ruled earlier this month that there was insufficient evidence to merit a law limiting shale gas exploration.

Total boss Christophe de Margerie told Europe 1 radio: "Europe has said: We do not want to ban the development of shale gas - instead we are going to ask those drilling for it to be extremely respectful of the environment and be careful. That is the kind of message we like to hear.

He said of Montebourg's support: "The industry minister is saying some good things."

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