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Shell Shale Gas Project, Skåne, Sweden


In May 2008, Swedish governmental agency Bergsstaten gave Shell Exploration and Production AB (affiliate of Royal Dutch Shell Plc) permission for shale gas prospecting and test-drilling in Colonussänkan in Skåne, Sweden. Shell was test-drilling in three different places: Sjöbo, Hörby and Tomelilla.

Already from the beginning, locals mobilized and protested against the project. Shell had been given permission to explore for shale gas on an area of 25% of the Skåne province, and many locals feared the consequences that this exploration and potential extraction could have.

The EJO Heaven or Shell was founded in the summer of 2009 and is a network of locals that oppose the exploration of shale gas in Skåne. They have among other things filed numerous appeals against the decision to let Shell explore the area, and their goal is to change the Swedish Minerallag (Minerals Act, legislation) to give municipalities and land owners veto.

In March 2011 Shell, based on the results from the test-drillings, announced that the levels of gas would be too low for a profitable extraction of gas in Skåne, and the project was abandoned. The network Heaven or Shell continue their struggle to change Swedish legislation for the benefit of municipalities and land owners. (1, 2, 3)

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Shell Shale Gas Project, Skåne, Sweden
State or province:Skåne
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Oil and gas exploration and extraction
Shale gas fracking
Specific commodities:Natural Gas

Project Details and Actors

Project details

Since the project ended in its exploration phase, there are no quantitative details on extraction.

Project area:226,155
Level of Investment for the conflictive projectShell spent 30,8 million USD during test-drilling
Type of populationSemi-urban
Start of the conflict:2009
Company names or state enterprises:Shell Exploration Company B.V. from Netherlands - subsidiary to Royal Dutch Shell Plc
Royal Dutch Shell (Shell) from Netherlands
Relevant government actors:Shell Exploration and Production AB (Sweden, subsidiary to Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Netherlands)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Heaven or Shell,

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches


Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsPotential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Loss of landscape/sense of place


Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Withdrawal of company/investment
Company did not find it profitable enough to continue explorations.
Proposal and development of alternatives:Ejos demand that the Swedish law be changed to give municipalities and/or landowners veto.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:The reason to why Shell Exploration and Production AB decided discontinue the explorations was not because of the resistance they met from EJO Heaven or Shell, but because the result from the test drillings showed that the project would not be profitable enough to proceed. The institutional and legislative issues that the protest group Heaven or Shell wanted to change remain the same.

Sources & Materials

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

Minerallagen (1991:45),

Miljöbalken (1998:808),

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

Avdelningen för Fastighetsvetenskap, Lunds Tekniska Högskola,

Fredrik Johansson and Johan Pettersson, 2011, Naturgasprospektering i Skåne, Master thesis, Institutionen för Teknik och samhälle

Hård strid om svensk gasutvinning, Svenska Dagbladet,

(3) Shell får klartecken leta gas i Skåne, Ny Teknik,

(2) Shell skrotar planer på gasutvinning, Skånskan,

(1) Heaven or Shell,

Meta information

Contributor:Linda Dubec
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:417