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Chevron has suspended its search for shale gas at a site in eastern Romania after mass protests.

Earlier this year the company won approval to drill exploratory wells in the poverty stricken eastern county of Vaslui, near the Black Sea they also have rights to explore three blocks.

Across Romania, thousands of people have rallied to protest the government backing of shale gas exploration as they also plan to set up Europe’s largest open cast gold mine in a small Carpathian town.

In Pungesti, where Chevron’s fist exploration well was to be located, locals blocked access to the site earlier this week.

“Chevron can today confirm it has suspended activities in Silistea, Pungesti commune, Vaslui county. Chevron is committed to building constructive and positive relationships with the communities where we operate and we will continue our dialogue with the public, local communities and authorities on our projects,” said Chevron.

Many countries in central and southeastern Europe view shale as a means to lessen their dependence on Russia, though Romania only needs to import around a quarter use demand due to conventional reserves.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that Romania could potentially recover 51 trillion cubic feet of shale gas, which would cover domestic demand for more than a 100 years.