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Shale gas and fracking, Denmark


In 2010 Total E and P Denmark B.V. and Danish state owned company Nordsofonden were granted licenses for onshore shale gas explorations in Denmark. These were to be done in two geographical areas in Denmark; one in North Jutland and the other one in North Zealand.

Since the process used to extract shale gas, hydraulic fracturing (popularly 'fracking'), is known to carry negative environmental and human health risks (most notably through groundwater contamination), and because shale gas extraction is a very resource intensive process (it requires a lot of water and transportation), and finally because, from an environmentalist point of view, it is essentially just another fossil fuel, which will delay a clean energy transition in Denmark and contribute further to climate change, 'fracking' is receiving criticism and resistance from Danish environmentalist groups.

In 2011 the Danish climate justice group Copenhagen Climate Collective began campaigning and mobilising preventive resistance to fracking in Denmark.

Later Greenpeace Denmark and Dansk Naturfredningsforening (the Danish Society for Nature Conservation) issued public statements, where they criticised Danish shale gas exploration projects and took a clear anti-fracking stand.

Currently Skifergas - Nej Tak ! (Shale gas - No Thanks!) is the main anti-fracking player in Denmark.

Skifergas - Nej Tak! is a campaign platform or process that facilitates collaboration between the diverse local anti-fracking groups/organisations/individuals in Denmark, herein representatives from the communities living in the locations where shale-gas extraction is planned to take place.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Shale gas and fracking, Denmark
Location of conflict:Frederikshavn
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional 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:Natural Gas

Project Details and Actors

Project details

Shale gas in the Danish underground is at 4000 meters depth. The six year long research and exploration process about shale gas in Denmark has been divided into three phases: 1) 2010-2012; 2) 2012-2014; 3) 2014-2016

The ongoing second phase is concerned with technicalities of the project. A couple of vertical wells will be constructed, through which it will be possible to gather data about the geology of the Danish underground, natural gas content, mineral content, etc. Possibly there will also be gathered seismic data, if there is a need for that.

According to the energy companies independent studies about the impacts on the local society and the environment will also be carried out in this phase. These studies will e.g. consider biodiversity, soil quality, hydro-geology, landscape descriptions.

Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:2011
Company names or state enterprises:Nordsofonden from Denmark
Total E&P Denmark B.V. from Denmark - Danish subsidiary of Total
Total SA from France
Relevant government actors:Danish Ministry of the Environment, Danish Ministry of Climate and Energy
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Copenhagen Climate Collective, Greenpeace Denmark, Dansk Naturfredningsforening, Skifergas - Nej Tak !

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Nature conservation organisations
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches


Environmental ImpactsPotential: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Loss of livelihood, Loss of landscape/sense of place


Project StatusProposed (exploration phase)
Development of alternatives:Skifergas Nej Tak! proposes to ban shale gas extraction and fracking in Denmark.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:It is still too early to say whether it will be an environmental justice success. What has so far been a success is that the media has started to take the issue up from a critical angle, and local people as well as environmentalists are involved in the preventive phase of the resistance.
There seem to be three main arguments against fracking in Denmark.
1) The most mainstream one is focused on the health and environmental risks accompanying fracking.
2) Nature conservation environemntalists also mobilise on the importance of conserving natural landscapes, flora and fauna.
3) The Copenhagen Climate Collective emphasises in addition to the above arguments that shale gas is just another fossil fuel that serves to fuel continous faith in the economic growth paradigm and capitalism, creating more inequalities between privileged and marginalised social groups globally. Thus a perspective that is closely related to that of many ejo's in relation to other environmetal conflicts.

Sources & Materials

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Howarth, R.W, Santoro, R. and Ingraffea A. 2011. Methane and the greenhouse-gas footprint of naturalgas from shale formations, Climate Change, 106, pp. 679-690

Broderick. J., et al: 2011, Shale gas: an updated assessment of environmental and climate change impacts. A report commissioned by The Co-operative and undertaken by researchers at the Tyndall Centre, University of Manchester

Short documentary produced by local internet TV in Nordjylland

Lechtenboehmer, S. et al. 2011. Impacts of shale gas and shale oil extraction on the environment and on human heath, Document requested by the European Parliaments Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, published on Energy Bulletin, avai

Osborn, S. G. et al. 2011. Methane contamination of drinking water accompanying gas-well drilling and hydraulic fracturing, PNAS Early Edition, pp. 1-5, available online:

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Skifergas - Nej Tak!

Shale gas - No Thanks! The main mobilising actor against fracking in Denmark.

The Guardian's special theme on Shalegas and Fracking

Greenpeace Denmark on shale-gas and fracking

Copenhagen Climate Collective, a Danish environemntal justice organisation with a clear anticapitalist stand against fracking.

Huffington Post special theme on Shale gas and Fracking

Total and Nordsofonden about their shale gas exploration

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Short documentary The Sky is Pink by Josh Fox and the Gasland team

Documentary 'Gasland' by Josh Fox, can be streamed and downloaded online or purchased here.

Other comments:Total is a multinational whose main office is in Paris, France. The Danish daughter company Total E and P Denmark B.V. has office in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Nordsofonden is a Danish state owned company with office in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Meta information

Contributor:Elisabeth SkarĂ°hamar Olsen
Last update05/06/2014