Tuesday, February 19 08:28:15
After slamming the door on developing shale gas over environmental concerns, France has discovered there could be at least five years worth of another cheap-to-produce gas in the former coal mining region of Lorraine.
But divisions in Francois Hollande's government, as with shale gas, are hampering efforts to develop so-called coalbed methane, a gas extracted from layers of coal too deep underground to be mined.
While environmentally oriented members of the government aim to boost renewable energy and cut reliance on oil and gas, traditional Socialists keen to create jobs are pushing for cost effective energy sources.
"This is 'Made in France' gas," Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg told journalists last month, using a slogan from his campaign to encourage consumers to buy French goods.
Known to wary coal miners as "firedamp", coalbed methane was the flammable gas that got trapped in pockets between the coal and often triggered lethal underground explosions.
Montebourg sees coalbed methane as a cheap energy source that could help prevent French businesses from offshoring in search of lower costs and believes France could be a producer in just a few years. ( C) Reuters