Italy's Eni pulls out of Polish shale gas exploration-report

WARSAW Tue Jan 14, 2014 2:45am EST

WARSAW Jan 14 (Reuters) - Italy's Eni will follow other foreign energy companies and pull out of Polish shale gas exploration due to unclear regulation and difficult geology, local daily Puls Biznesu reported on Tuesday.

The newspaper quoted unnamed sources as saying Eni would let its three concessions in northern Poland fade out, leaving Chevron and ConocoPhillips as the only global players left in Poland's shale sector.

"We do not comment on press speculation," an Eni spokesman said.

The government, hoping shale gas will ease Poland's reliance on energy imports from Russia, is proposing new legislation to ease conditions for investors.

Yet hopes that Poland could lead a U.S.-style shale gas boom in Europe are fading as energy companies say Warsaw's draft proposals do not go far enough to cut bureaucracy.

On Monday, Poland's supreme audit chamber (NIK) blamed the environment ministry's administrative inefficiency for delays in the shale industry.

The prime minister recently replaced environment minister and his chief geologist in a move seen as an attempt to bolster shale exploration.

Marathon Oil and Talisman Energy last year followed Exxon Mobil in pulling out of the country.

If shale gas fails to live up to the administration's hopes, Russia's Gazprom is likely to remain Poland's biggest gas supplier.