The French government has revoked the shale gas licences held by the oil and gas multinationals Schuepbach and Total. The licences in question are the Nant and Villeneuve-de-Berg licences held by Schuepbach, and the Montélimar licence held by Total, which covers one million acres northeast of Montpellier.
Also, Schuepbach has withdrawn its legal action against municipalities in the Ardèche and the Gard areas in the south of France. Local mayors had said they would not allow fracking (hydraulic fracturing) in their municipalities; Schuepbach had said the mayors had no right to issue such a ban.
The French parliament has banned fracking to obtain shale gas. Those who are campaigning for a total ban on shale gas exploitation say the ban on the practice of hydraulic fracturing does not go far enough. They are concerned that the multinationals will find a way to get around the proposed restriction.
Groups campaigning against shale gas fracking have welcomed the withdrawal of the licences, but warn that 61 other permits remain in place in France that allow research by multinationals who want to exploit other fossil fuels.
Protesters say continued vigilance is vital.
Shale gas fracking is highly dangerous for the environment and contaminates water supplies. It involves using a high-pressure blast of water, sand, and chemicals to create a shock wave to break open cracks deep in the earth and shift the gas into collection areas.
European MP and long-time environmental activist José Bové says there will be large-scale opposition to any attempts to exploit shale gas in France.