Pure propane stimulation developed by ecorpStim in 2012 uses no water and no chemical additives, unlike hydraulic fracturing. For these reasons, after a new government was appointed, following the presidential election in 2012, the new Minister of Industry Arnaud Montebourg viewed this technology as enabling the shale gas dossier to be reconsidered in France, thus potentially opening the door to growth, jobs creation and industrial recovery.
In the summer of 2012, John Thrash, CEO of eCORP, met with Arnaud Montebourg. The Minister immediately decided to launch a conﬁdential project, aimed at determining the conditions under which shale gas exploration / exploitation could be considered in France, and assessing the potential macro-economic impact of such a production.
In December 2012, French public experts travelled to South Texas at the request of the Minister to witness a ﬁeld experiment of pure propane stimulation (PPS) organized by ecorpStim. In February 2013, the experts delivered their technical report to the Minister, and concluded that the technology was very promising and could be adapted to French conditions.
In the spring of 2013, ecorpStim invented a non-ﬂammable version of its technology (“non-ﬂammable propane” or NFP) using heptaﬂuoropropane instead of regular propane, and making the technology easier to use in areas with a high density of population.
Until the spring of 2014, eCORP provided its technical expertise to the government working group in charge of assessing the potential macro-economic impact of a French shale production.
The conﬁdential project was eventually captured in a secret report entitled “Unconventional hydrocarbons in France: perspectives opened by new technologies for exploration and exploitation – 20 months of research seeking environmentally friendly shale gas”.
The report proposed to launch an experiment (the drilling of 8 science wells), to test propane / non-ﬂammable propane stimulation in French conditions, to create a national company in charge of shale gas exploration / exploitation, and to allocate a signiﬁcant portion of the rent resulting from French shale gas exploitation to energy transition. This document was shared by Minister Montebourg at the highest level of the French government in the summer of 2014.
At the end of August 2014, a government reshufﬂe took place. Montebourg was no longer Minister and his project was not taken over by the new government for internal political reasons.
The “Montebourg report” became known by the public after it was leaked by the French daily newspaper “Le Figaro” in April 2015.