Light illuminates a shale gas drilling rig operated by Exalo Drilling, the oil and gas exploration unit of Poland’s PGNiG, also known as Polskie Gornictwo Naftowe I Gazownictwo, in Lubocino, Poland (file). Poland launched a major push into shale three years ago when Prime Minister Donald Tusk announced the country would seek to produce unconventional gas on a commercial scale in 2014.
Calls for 200-300 more wells in three-four years; expects new shale law to be signed by president in spring
Poland’s new environment minister has called for the drilling of 200 to 300 new shale wells in the next four years, saying it was critical to speed faltering development of the sector to wean Warsaw off Russian gas.
Maciej Grabowski, who replaced Marcin Korolec last month, has vowed to make shale exploration a priority despite a number of setbacks that have slowed development of unconventional gas in Poland.
“In the last few years more than 50 wells have been drilled and, in my opinion, this pace is not satisfactory,” Grabowski told Reuters in an interview. “We want this work to accelerate.”
Poland launched a major push into shale three years ago when Prime Minister Donald Tusk announced the former Soviet satellite state would seek to produce unconventional gas on a commercial scale in 2014.
High hopes for the sector, however, were dashed in March 2012 after a government report cut the estimated reserves by about a tenth from a 2011 survey showing potentially 5.3tn cu m of reserves - enough to cover domestic demand for 300 years.
The disappointing revision along with red-tape, an unpredictable legal landscape and poor initial drilling results spurred global players such as Marathon Oil, Talisman Energy and Exxon Mobil to pull out of Poland.
Grabowski said that one successful shale well could produce commercial volumes as early as 2014 but that it would take another three or four years to hit the target of 200 to 300 wells.
“One well on the coast has already been close to a commercial character”, Grabowski said.
Grabowski on Thursday dismissed his deputy minister and Poland’s chief ecologist Piotr Wozniak, who shale gas players have said was an impediment to a new draft law seen as critical to paving the way for future investment.
Grabowski said his ministry continued to work on new regulations that will appease investors and secure Poland’s interest in the shale gas sector, with a new draft law ready for the president’s signature by next spring.
The latest version of the draft law would create a state-owned operator called NOKE, which would co-own and control the licences.
“We want investors to be granted one exploration and exploitation licence and not two separate ones, as it has been the case up to date,” Grabowski said.
“I am convinced that these changes are desired, especially as next year a dozen or so exploration licences expire and I expect that some investors will be interested in extending them.”
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