Zurawlow shalegas field and Chevron withdrawal, Poland

On 3 June 2013 a small village in Poland began an occupation of a field for around 400 days, to avoid that Chevron fenced the area to fracking. The villagers won this fight and Chevron withdrew


Description
Chevron opened several exploratory wells in Poland, Romania, signing accords with Ucraina and Lituania as well.  [2]  The company on 30 January 2015, announced it was abandoning exploratory project of shale gas in Poland, because its earnings for the fourth quarter of 2014 fell nearly 30 percent compared with a year earlier, to $3.5 billion. The company blamed lower oil prices for much of the damage.  [1]   The Chevron's retirement reflected the need of oil companies to cut cost after the 60 percent fall in prices of oil in 2015. But in Europe in general, the history of shale gas failed: in fact the efforts of companies were frustrated by the difficult geology and a strong public opposition for environmental reasons. [2]  The protest of local community were much organised and in particolary in Poland the villagers of Zurawlow, a small village outside Zamosc, in the Gmina Grabowiec district, was famous blocking Chevron's intention to start drilling in 2013. Since the implementation of Poland’s geological and mining law, the state is allowed to seize land sitting on shale gas deposits for industrial purposes. The law secures more power for companies, while leaving Polish citizens defenseless. Chevron in fact had obtained governmental approval for exploring for shale gas in Zurawlow in 2012. The locals farmers to keep the energy company out filed complaints with the authorities and they sent a letter to the Polish prime minister and the environment minister, demanding governmental protection for the citizens and highlighting the air, land and water pollution and impact on their health caused by shale gas extraction. They had experienced some of the potential dangers of fracking during Chevron’s earlier seismic tests, when the explosives used led to water pollution, making it undrinkable.  [7]  Moreover they have been well informed of the many environmental issue that result from this drilling practice from the movie “Drill Baby Drill” by Lech Kowalski. [8]. On 2 June 2013, Chevron came with security guards and took possession of a parcel on a concession land to install a fence and to start drilling on the site. The locals immediately on 3 June 2013 rushed to the site to block Chevron from bringing any more equipment on the land. The farmers launched a protest movement called “Occupy Chevron” and for 400 days, farmers and their families from Zurawlow and four nearby villages, blockaded a proposed Chevron shale drilling site with tractors and agricultural machinery [5]. A villager said “Roads were damaged and destroyed when seismic tests were done with heavy machinery,” “The fact is that people’s houses had cracks in their walls afterwards. When Chevron tried to start up with their machinery, I was one who was involved. We blocked the entry roads.”  [3]  They were supported by urban greens, anarchists ecc., and they set up a protest camp completed with everything and occupied the site around the clock. Many activists are still confronting a criminal lawsuit filed by Chevron, and many were filmed by mystery cameramen which were used in subsequent court cases. Barbara Siegienczuk, one of the leaders of the local anti-shale gas protest group believed that her phone was tapped. She said “Whenever Chevron organised anything, we demonstrated,” “We made banners and placards and put posters up around the village. Only 96 people live in Zurawlow – children and old people included – but we stopped Chevron!”  [3].  Zukowski, the ex- mayor, suggested that village protesters were being manipulated by Kremlin’s intentions because gas and oil are a useful tool for Russia to get involved in other countries’ energy security. [3]  An other local villager said “We don’t need shale gas,” “It’s one big scam. Nobody informed us about what’s happening. The ex-mayor was useless. He just promised work for everyone but there was nothing. We are not going to work on the well. The people who have agro-tourism businesses know that it’s not beneficial as the environment will be destroyed and people won’t come here anymore.” [3]  The farmers in Zurawlow were successful in stopping Chevron because of permit issues. For example in a support letter, José Bové European Deputy, expressed to them all his support becuse the extraction of shale gas carries so much serious risks and he confirmed Chevron had an authorization for seismic tests only and not to fence [5].  Infact pursuant to the information from the Minister of Environment on May 29th 2013, regarding the Grabowiec concession Chevron can conduct 3D seismic tests only. The company has not received an approval from local government for any other activities. [5] The only argument Chevron employees use is that the leased field is company’s private property. But the lease that Chevron has made is for public purpose: to search and to recognise of hydrocarbons in the area. According to the Geological and Mining Law that means all the activities of the mining companies on the concession area should be conducted with the knowledge and acceptance of the society. [5]  Poland has a long history of occupation by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union at the beginning of World War II. By the late 1980s Solidarity, the transition from a communist state to the capitalist system and parliamentary democracy, caused the creation of the modern Polish state.  So this historical process influenced the recent polish aptitude to say "No more Occupying Poland”. Zurawlow’s example of opposition to fracking and their tactics of resistance is a positive and inspiriting example for other countries, who want to save their environment and their health. [7] 
Basic Data
NameZurawlow shalegas field and Chevron withdrawal, Poland
CountryPoland
ProvinceDistrict of Gmina Grabowiec, within Zamość County, Lublin Voivodeship, in eastern Poland.
SiteZurawlow
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Shale gas fracking
Specific CommoditiesCrude oil
Natural Gas
Project Details and Actors
Project Details
In 2011, the US energy information administration announced that there could be as much as 5.3 trillion cubic meters - or 300 years worth- of gas that could be fracked in the area around Zurawlow, although subsequent studies have shown that the reserves are much lower than that and could only last for 26-70 years.[7]
See more...
Type of PopulationRural
Start Date03/06/2013
End Date30/01/2015
Company Names or State EnterprisesChevron Corporation from United States of America
Relevant government actorsThe Minister of Environment of Poland; The Polish prime minister
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersFarmer Protest: https://www.facebook.com/FarmersProtest/?fref=ts : [email protected];

Occupy Chevron (Poland): http://occupychevron.tumblr.com/ : [email protected];
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Villagers blockaded a proposed Chevron shale drilling site with tractors and agricultural machinery, for 400 days[4]. 
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Air pollution
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Malnutrition, Occupational disease and accidents
Other [7]Greens EFA
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Land dispossession
Outcome
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCriminalization of activists
Court decision (undecided)
Project cancelled
Development of AlternativesIn the Occupy Chevron (Poland) web site [5], in the section “Postulaty”,  they assumed clearly:

1. Stoping activity of Chevron corporation and their subcontractors in the area of Grabowiec till legality of intentional actions will be confirmed. Its actions will lead to irreversible destruction of natural enviroment in the area, and eventual penalties will not remove the damage.

2. Taking into account opinion of local communities by the authorities and all entities leading the mining activity on our land - especially Chevron corporation.

3. Removing all accusations towards protesters and also stoping the process of intimidation the local authorities. Chevrons’ lawyers threats authorities and inhabitants of Zurawlow with penalties as a consequence of taking part in the protest. At the same time Chevron tries to agitate protestants with inhabitants of neighbouring villages by, for example, hiring them as bodyguards, who constantly film protestants. Is it how Chevron “supports local communities”, as stated on its website.

4.Making all Chevron’s actions transparent. We demand  access to all documents concerning actions conducted by Chevron that are having influence on natural enviroment in our area. Transparency is the basis of dialogue, necesarry to build “relationship with communities”.
Do you consider this as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.The determination of the Zurawlow's farmers to expel the fracking Chevron activities, was so strong, occupying for many days fields and roads, that they made Chevron withdraw.
Sources and Materials
References

 [8]Lechkowalski.com, Drill Baby drill/La malédiction du gaz de schiste/ Gas-Fieber, Lech Kowalski (2013)
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Links

 Arthur Neslen, Polish shale industry collapsing as number of licenses nearly halves, The Guardian, October 9, 2015
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 [3]  Arthur Neslen, Poland's shale gas revolution evaporates in face of environmental protests, The Guardian, January 12, 2015
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Anca Dumitrescu, Chevron renunţă la explorarea zăcămintelor de gaze de şist din Polonia,Mediafax, February 1, 2015
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Cotidianul.ro, Marius Şuiu: De ce s-a retras Chevron din Polonia și România ,February 22, 2015
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Nofrackingvallespasiegos, Chevron abandona la aventura del Shale Gas en Polonia, Enero 31, 2015
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Economie.hotnews, Chevron renunta la explorarea zacamintelor de gaze de sist din Polonia, February 1, 2015
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 [1]  Stanley Reed, Chevron to Abandon Shale Natural Gas Venture in Poland, New York Times, January 30, 2015
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 [2]Rinnovabili.it, Chevron lascia la Polonia: il fracking costa troppo, February 6, 2015
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[7]Raluca Besliu,Polish village of Zurawlow is model in anti-fracking fight, Cafebabel, August 20, 2013
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Media Links

AntyŁupek, Protest mieszkańców Żurawlowa i okolicznych miejscowości przeciwko firmie Chevron, która ma zamiar wykonać odwiert a następnie wydobywać gaz łupkowy metodą szczelinowania hydraulicznego niespełna 300m od najbliższych budynków mieszkalnych, Mar 9, 2014
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 [5] Occupy Chevron (Poland)
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Quynhanh Do, Oil Prices’ ‘Spectrum of Pain’, As the price of crude oil fluctuates, why some countries are faring much better than others, The New York Times, January 27, 2015, Photo by Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters, in  [1] Stanley Reed, Chevron to Abandon Shale Natural Gas Venture in Poland, New York Times, January 30, 2015
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/31/business/international/chevron-to-abandon-shale-venture-in-poland-a-setback-to-fracking-europe.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=1
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Lech Kowalski, Vincent Brown and Christine O'Brien-Bucciero, 100 DAYS OF OCCUPY CHEVRON, September 10, 2013
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F ZURAWLOW, 2013
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Occupy Chevron, press related to Occupy Chevron in Poland, Curated by camera war
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 [6]Greens EFA, Zabronić hydroszczelinowanie i eksploatacji gazu łupkowego w Europie zanim będzie za późno!, in Occupy Chevron (Poland), September 3, 2012
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Other Documents

Jarosław Badera and Paweł Kocoń, Moral panic related to mineral development projects – Examples from Poland, April 2, 2015
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Occupy chevron (Poland)http://occupychevron.tumblr.com/Photo
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Anca Dumitrescu, Chevron renunţă la explorarea zăcămintelor de gaze de şist din Polonia,Mediafax, February 1, 2015 Chevron renunţă la explorarea zăcămintelor de gaze de şist din Polonia (Imagine: Mediafax Foto/AFP)
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Cotidianul.ro, Marius Şuiu: De ce s-a retras Chevron din Polonia și România ,February 22, 2015 http://www.cotidianul.ro/marius-suiu-de-ce-s-a-retras-chevron-din-polonia-si-romania-257161/
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 [3]  Arthur Neslen, Poland's shale gas revolution evaporates in face of environmental protests, The Guardian, January 12, 2015 https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jan/12/polands-shale-gas-revolution-evaporates-in-face-of-environmental-protests Barbara Siegienczuk, one of the leaders of the local anti-shale gas protest group Green Zurawlow, with her husband and co-activist, Andrzej Bak. Photograph: Stanislaw Wadas/Demotix
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 [3]  Arthur Neslen, Poland's shale gas revolution evaporates in face of environmental protests, The Guardian, January 12, 2015 https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jan/12/polands-shale-gas-revolution-evaporates-in-face-of-environmental-protests A shale gas exploration drilling rig near Majdan Sopocki, south-east Poland, owned by state oil and gas company PGNiG. Photograph: Stanislaw Wadas/Demotix
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 [3]  Arthur Neslen, Poland's shale gas revolution evaporates in face of environmental protests, The Guardian, January 12, 2015 https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jan/12/polands-shale-gas-revolution-evaporates-in-face-of-environmental-protests Zurawlow, in south-eastern Poland, where people successfully campaigned against drilling by Chevron. The protest banner reads: ‘Poland has gas, America has profits.’ Photograph: Stanislaw Wadas/Demo
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 [3]  Arthur Neslen, Poland's shale gas revolution evaporates in face of environmental protests, The Guardian, January 12, 2015 https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jan/12/polands-shale-gas-revolution-evaporates-in-face-of-environmental-protests T-shirts and caps with anti-fracking messages at the headquarters of the Zurawlow anti-fracking movement. Photograph: Stanislaw Wadas/Demotix
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 [3]  Arthur Neslen, Poland's shale gas revolution evaporates in face of environmental protests, The Guardian, January 12, 2015 https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jan/12/polands-shale-gas-revolution-evaporates-in-face-of-environmental-protests A shale gas exploration drilling rig near Majdan Sopocki, owned by the Polish state-owned oil and gas company PGNiG. Photograph: Stanislaw Wadas/Demotix
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 [5]Occupy chevron ( Poland), http://occupychevron.tumblr.com/Photo
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 [5]Occupy Chevron ( Poland), http://occupychevron.tumblr.com/Photo
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 [7]Raluca Besliu, , Polish village of Zurawlow is model in anti-fracking fight, Cafebabel, August 20, 2013 http://www.cafebabel.co.uk/society/article/polish-village-of-zurawlow-is-model-in-anti-fracking-fight.html 'Occupy Chevron' gets support from residents of Polish city Lublin | courtesy of © occupychevronfr.tumblr.com
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ContributorMyriam Bartolucci, EJAtlas internship researcher, [email protected]
Last update06/07/2016
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