Protest halts shale gas exploration

US oil company Chevron has suspended exploration for shale gas in north-eastern Romania after hundreds of anti-fracking protesters tore down fences.

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An anti-shale gas exploration protester faces a line of riot police in Pungesti, north-east Romania (AP)

US oil company Chevron has suspended exploration for shale gas in north-eastern Romania after hundreds of anti-fracking protesters tore down fences.

Chevron won approval to drill exploratory wells in the town of Pungesti, but halted work for a second time on Saturday after residents blocked access to the site.

Hundreds of riot police could not prevent residents from demolishing fences and breaking into the site. Dozens were detained and 14 were charged with destruction of property and carrying knives.

Chevron said it had suspended work "as a result of unsafe conditions" and informed police of destruction to its property.

Thousands of people have rallied across Romania in recent months to protest against government support for shale gas exploration. Chevron had resumed work at the site on December 2.