A natural gas field at the origin of the formation of an industrial region in the Southwest of France: Lacq-Mourenx (1957-2013)


  • Alexandre Fernandez Université Bordeaux-Montaigne


Natural gas, Energy resources, Chemical industries, Industrial development, Political and technical voluntarism in France


The discovery of a natural gas field in the 1950s was a major event. These resources contained in the subsoil of a village at the foot of the Pyrenees provided energy for the national industrial development. Hence, the intervention and investments of the State and the largest national companies. We analyzed the ex nihilo creation, around the production units of the SNPA (Société Nationale des Pétroles d’Aquitaine), which exploited the area, of an industrial facility that wanted to take advantage of the natural gas of Lacq, very loaded with sulfur as a raw material or as a source of energy to produce electricity. In less than five years a rural region underwent a total metamorphosis; the Lacq-Mourenx district was the second most heavily industrialized area in the south-west of the country. The article also evaluates the strategies of anticipation to the foreseeable exhaustion of the place.