Poland's shale gas hopes buoyed by promising test output

WARSAW Wed Aug 28, 2013 3:30am EDT

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WARSAW Aug 28 (Reuters) - Lane Energy Poland, an oil and gas exploration company controlled by ConocoPhillips, is extracting some 8,000 cubic metres of shale gas per day at a test well in northern Poland, an amount unseen in Europe to date, the Rzeczpospolita daily newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Poland, whose hopes for shale gas faded after three international firms quit after disappointing drilling results, has been looking for signs of bigger quantities of the unconventional gas, which could help it reduce its reliance on Russia.

Lane Energy started production testing at its well in the northern city of Lebork in July.

The daily amount of gas being produced there still does not qualify as commercial production, but is the largest obtained in any shale gas well so far in Europe, the newspaper said.

Lane Energy and ConocoPhillips were not immediately available for comment.

"This is very good news for Poland and European oil geology," Piotr Wozniak, deputy environment minister and Poland's chief geologist, was quoted as saying.

He said the results should encourage other companies to speed up work on shale gas exploration.

Polish refiner PKN Orlen is expected to announce the results of production tests at its shale gas well in Syczyn in eastern Poland, which Wozniak has described as one of the most promising in the country.

Poland, which consumes 15 billion cubic metres of gas a year, mostly imported from Russia, has estimated its recoverable shale gas reserves at up to 768 billion cubic metres.

It has issued more than 100 shale gas exploration licences to local and international firms which have drilled 48 wells to date.

Some companies, however, have complained that the commercial output of shale gas is being delayed by red tape and difficult geology. This year, Marathon Oil and Talisman Energy followed Exxon Mobil in pulling out of Poland.

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