A green light that makes environmentalists see red. The Canadian company Vermilion Energy has just obtained authorization to exploit eight new oil drilling wells in La Teste-de-Buch, on the Arcachon basin (Gironde), after a favorable opinion Monday received after a public inquiry, and while the exploitation of hydrocarbons will be gradually banned in France by 2040.
Vermilion plans to drill these eight new wells in order to "reach previously untapped oil reserves" at the Cazaux site, where about 1 wells are already in operation, with production currently estimated at 500,130 barrels per day. The Vermilion group, the leading oil producer in France with 1 employees, holds the Cazaux concession until 2035 January 1960, which has been in operation since the <>s.
'Legitimate public concerns'
At the end of the public inquiry conducted from August 28 to September 26, the investigating commissioner received 102 contributions, "reflecting the legitimate concerns of the public in the face of major issues related to greenhouse gas emissions and global warming," according to her report.
While acknowledging "certainly exacerbated concerns" following the monster fires of 2022 that ravaged 7,000 hectares of the La Teste-de-Buch forest, the commissioner notes that no local residents have reported any "serious malfunction" or "major nuisance" related to the Cazaux concession.
Saying that it had "ignored general considerations on the future of oil extraction in France" beyond 2040, it also notes that "oil that would not be produced in France would certainly be imported with a much higher environmental cost".
This opinion was criticised by Vital Baude, regional councillor for Europe Ecology-The Greens (EELV), who said he was "sorry and appalled" by the opinion. "This argument that we are going to make short circuits of oil to pollute less, I find it incredibly cynical," reacted this Arcachon city councillor.
For him, it is particularly symbolic that this favourable opinion is issued at a time when the European Copernicus Observatory has just reported, for the first time, that the global average temperature has exceeded the seasonal average temperature by more than 2°C in one day compared to the seasonal average in the pre-industrial era.
Vermilion's case is now in the hands of the prefect of the Gironde, who must issue an order authorizing or refusing the project. In 2017, the executive passed a law that provides for the gradual cessation of hydrocarbon exploitation by 2040.
- Global warming
- New Aquitaine