A study by France’s Parliamentary Office for the Evaluation of Scientific and Technological Choices (OPECST) concludes that propane stimulation is a “promising alternative” to hydraulic fracturing (fracking) — which is banned in the country — according to eCORP Stimulation Technologies.

The report, which was released Wednesday, found that “alternative technologies are more developed than currently believed in France” and labeled propane stimulation an “operational and promising alternative” to fracking, the Houston-based company said.

The pure propane stimulation technique developed by eCORP “is currently the only operational technique for extracting unconventional hydrocarbons without any water or chemical additives,” the company said. “The environmental impact of the extraction process is thereby profoundly reduced.”

The OPECST report stressed the benefits of non-flammable propane stimulation. “A major innovation of 2013, the use of this fluorinated form of propane guarantees the safety of operations during both storage, transport and stimulation stages,” eCORP said.

Earlier this year, eCORP said it had successfully tested a waterless fracking fluid consisting solely of propane in Frio County, TX, in the Eagle Ford Shale (see Shale Daily, Jan. 10). In 2012, eCORP scrapped plans to perform waterless fracking in New York because it couldn’t come to a consensus with landowners (see Shale Daily, May 4, 2012; March 30, 2012).

Calgary-based GasFrac Energy Services Inc. markets a waterless propane gas fracking fluid, which has been used by more than 50 customers, including Royal Dutch Shell plc, Husky Energy Inc. and BlackBrush Oil and Gas LP (see Shale Daily, Aug. 13, 2012). GasFrac’s fluid contains additives, while eCORP’s technology enables the use of pure propane.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration has estimated 180 Tcf of shale gas resources in France, but the country’s strict drilling ban, enacted in July 2011, makes accessing that gas problematic (see Shale Daily,May 7). While a number of European Union (EU) nations have put restrictions or outright bans on fracking, some analysts think those countries are likely to reconsider the drilling technique for its potential to promote energy independence and spur economic growth (see Shale Daily,Nov. 4).