Poland Determined to Produce Shale Gas

By Marcin Sobczyk

Polish PM Pledges Support for Shale Gas Exploration.

WARSAW—The Polish government supports the search for shale gas in Poland and hopes that commercial deposits will be found to increase the energy security of the country, Prime Minister Donald Tusk told an industry conference Tuesday.

“I will be engaging myself personally, as the head of the Polish government, in the optimization of conditions for the exploration, research, logistics and the business related to the production of shale gas,” he said. “It may happen that one of the fruits of this debate will be what’s priceless: a feeling of security and a hope for the future for millions of people….Poles are waiting for this gas.”

U.S. energy giants are drilling in Poland after initial geological research showed the country may have substantial amounts of shale gas, mostly in the north and east where some experts predict deposits of between 150 billion and 3,000 billion cubic meters. The discovery of documented deposits could change Poland’s energy mix—it now largely depends on natural gas imported from Russia’s OAO Gazprom.

Companies drilling for gas in Poland said this year initial findings give reasons for optimism. U.S. firms see Poland as one of the most promising prospective producers of shale gas. A Polish government delegation this week met U.S. officials to discuss shale gas prospects.

But skeptics have sounded environmental warnings about exploration of shale gas in Poland. Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski, during his presidential campaign last year, incorrectly said shale gas would have to be extracted in open pits that would damage the Polish landscape. Others more correctly pointed to the risks that water may be contaminated with chemicals used in underground rock fracturing.

The country’s prime minister said Tuesday the country is determined to produce shale gas to reduce its dependence on gas imported from Russia.

“It has to be safe for the environment, technologically feasible on a large scale, it must be profitable. But our determination is clear: every cubic meter of gas in Poland must be used if possible,” he said.