(Bloomberg)Total SA Chief Executive Officer Patrick Pouyanne said plans to ban imports of U.S. shale gas to France may be unworkable.

“I don’t know how it would be possible to do it,” Pouyanne said Wednesday at a hearing of the French Senate. “The gas is liquefied in the US, and shale and conventional gas are mixed together in pipelines.” You can’t then separate them, he said.

Energy and Environment Minister Segolene Royal said this month that she will “examine from a legal standpoint” ways to ban imports of shale gas, and has asked Electricite de France SA and Engie SA to import only conventional gas. France barred fracking in 2011 on environmental grounds. Houston-based Cheniere Energy Inc. has contracts to deliver liquefied natural gas to Engie, EDF and Total.

Re-gasification units in Europe are running at just 25% of capacity, and will attract U.S. LNG imports, Pouyanne said. “We’ll buy American gas in one year or two. We plan to import it in Europe or elsewhere in the world.”

“The price of gas in Europe has dropped because of American LNG,” Pouyanne said.


Bloomberg News - by Francois de Beaupuy