French President Francois Hollande said the ban on hydraulic fracturing would stay in place despite a legal challenge by a US company.
"As long as I am president, there will be no exploration for shale gas in France," Hollande told France 2 TV in a live interview after Bastille Day celebrations on Sunday.
France, reported by the International Energy Agency (IEA) to have some of Europe’s most abundant resources of shale gas, has banned the exploration in 2011 due to concerns it might lead to pollution of underground water reserves.
Before Holland’s pro-green government was established in 2011, the country had issued several exploration permits that were later withheld. One of the permit holders – US Schuepbach Energy – challenged the ban in the local court of Cergy-Pontoise near Paris. The case was subsequently forwarded to the highest administrative court of France and later to the Constitutional Council.
Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg stirred debate when he suggested creating a state-backed company to examine exploration techniques. But he was promptly overruled by Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault.