Germany-based oil and gas producer Wintershall has abandoned its plan to undertake scientific research into shale gas in the Rheinland and Ruhr fields in North Rhine-Westphalia.

The decision comes in response to the new fracking law, which was passed by the NRW state government in mid-February 2017.

The new regulation allows the use of hydraulic fracturing in natural gas production, though it is subject to stricter regulations.

Wintershall board member Martin Bachmann said: “It’s regrettable that scientific findings and technological expertise have so little weight in this decision and that open-ended exploration is being politically blocked in NRW, an important location for industry and science.”

Additionally, the law is expected to permit only a small number of research projects initially for unconventional reservoirs.

Wintershall said that the Arnsberg District Government has also rejected its application to extend the permits for the two fields at the end of January 2017.

Bachmann added: “As far as unconventional resources in Germany are concerned, we want to carry out basic research. First of all, we want to find out what there is underground. In a country like Germany with scarce natural resources, we must ask ourselves what resources will be available to us in the future.”

According to the new regulations, the blanket ban will be checked again on hydraulic fracturing in unconventional reservoirs after a pilot phase in 2021.

Wintershall, however, said it has no plans to pursue its application to further extend the permits for the Rheinland and Ruhr fields.

Image: Wintershall will abandon its plan to undertake scientific research into shale gas in North Rhine-Westphalia area. Photo: courtesy of Wintershall Holding GmbH.