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Exploratory fracking in Arquetu, Cantabria, Spain


In Cantabria there are applications to explore fracking possibilities since 2008.

At the end of 2011, the Cantabrian governement approved the concession of exploratory fracking in Arquetu. This exploratory project will last for 6 years and will take place within a surface of 24,876 ha. It will affect the municipalities of San Vicente de la Barquera, Valdáliga, Rionansa, Tudanca, Udías, Cabezón de la Sal, Ruente, Cabuérniga and Los Tojos.

During these years the exploratory fracking operations will consist of drilling wells, stimulating them via hydraulic fracture and doing production tests.

Also since 2011, a very strong grassroots anti-fracking movements has emerged in Cantabria. It is organised through the assembly against hydraulic fracture. This movement has launched a public campaign against the expansion of fracking in Cantabria, spreading information and organising workshops, talks and meetings with citizens and Mayors; organising demonstrations and events to raise awareness about the potential both social and environmental consequences of fracking.

As a result of this campaign, more than 30 municipalities have declared themselves against fracking. In April 2013, the Cantabrian regional Parliament banned fracking in its region.

However, the concessions already given have not been revoked yet and this ban does not affect further exploratory fracking.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Exploratory fracking in Arquetu, Cantabria, Spain
State or province:Cantabria
Location of conflict:Arquetu
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 commodities:Shale-Gas

Project Details and Actors

Project details

more than €134,331 invested.

Project area:24786
Level of Investment for the conflictive project17935553
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:2011
Company names or state enterprises:Trofagas Hidrocarburos, S.L from Spain - which is a subsidiady of BNK Petroleum Inc. BNK Petroleum Inc. (U.S.)
Relevant government actors:Cantabrian regional governement, Spanish government
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Asamblea contra la Fractura Hidráulica de Cantabria: which is a plattform where many groups converge (Asamblea 15M Cabezón de la Sal, Agitación Rural, Asamblea 15M Torrelavega, Asamblea 15M Santander, Ecologistas en acción, ARCA, Democracia Real Ya, Regüelta and Asamblea contra el TAV)

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches


Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Loss of landscape/sense of place


Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
New legislation
Project cancelled
Proposal and development of alternatives:ban fracking
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:On April 2013, stemming from a widespread opposition in the whole region, the Cantabrian goverment banned fracking. On february 2014, the cantabrian government cancelled the permits to frack in Arquetu and declares the fracking initiative that was intended to be performed there as 'illegal'.
However, on 24 June 2014, despite the widespread opposition, The Spanish Constitutional Court cancelled the Cantabrian fracking ban.

Sources & Materials

Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Ley 34/1998, de 7 de Octubre, del Sector de Hidrocarburos de España:

website from asamblea contra la fractura hidráulica en Cantabria:

newspaper article: Sevillano, E. (08/04/2013). Cantabria aprueba por unanimidad la ley que veta la polémica técnica del ‘fracking’. El Pais:

flyer on fracking:

newspaper article: Viudez, J. (11/03/2013). España cuenta con recursos de gas no convencional para 39 años de consumo. El Pais:

newspaper article: Manrique, P. (30/10/2013). Conflicto de competencias para dar vía libre al fracking. Diagonal:

Meta information

Contributor:Amaranta Herrero
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:53