Polish state firms extend deadline for shale gas deal

WARSAW Mon Nov 12, 2012 9:36am EST

WARSAW Nov 12 (Reuters) - Five state-controlled Polish companies on Monday pushed back a deadline to work out the details of how to cooperate in developing the country's shale gas resources to Feb. 4 of next year.

Central Europe's biggest nation expects shale gas to play an important role in helping its coal-reliant economy meet future European Union climate policy and carbon emission targets.

Shale gas also could help the former Soviet-block country become less dependent on Russia, which supplies the majority of Poland's annual gas consumption of nearly 15 billion cubic metres.

Gas monopoly PGNiG, copper miner KGHM and Poland's three largest utilities PGE, Tauron and Enea all said in separate statements they needed more time for talks on a cooperation agreement signed in July.

They had originally set an early November date to hammer out the details.

High costs and risks related to shale gas exploration have forced Poland to seek extra capital to attract more companies to the sector beyond traditional upstream explorers such as PGNiG, PKN Orlen and Lotos.

Earlier this year Poland slashed its estimates of recoverable gas from shale, but still it sees the reserves as enough to play an important role in meeting domestic demand.

Poland pegged its recoverable shale gas reserves at 346 billion to 768 billion cubic metres, well below an earlier estimate of 5.3 trillion by the U.S. Energy Information Association. (Reporting by Maciej Onoszko; Editing by Michael Kahn and Jane Baird)

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