Polish PM sees approval of new shale gas law within 2 weeks

WARSAW Wed Feb 5, 2014 9:51am EST

WARSAW Feb 5 (Reuters) - Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said on Wednesday his government would approve new investor-friendly laws within two weeks aimed at cutting red tape and regulatory hurdles that have dented the country's push to develop shale gas resources.

Poland launched a major push into shale three years ago when Tusk announced the country would seek to produce unconventional gas on a commercial scale in 2014 in an effort to wean the nation off Russian supplies.

But a 2012 report that cut Poland's estimated reserves by about 90 percent, the lack of a legal framework and some poor initial drilling results prompted Marathon Oil, Talisman Energy and Exxon Mobil to quit the country.

Tusk said the government should approve a new, more business-friendly draft of a shale gas law in two weeks and would not pursue the creation of a state-owned operator.

An earlier version of the draft saw a state operator called NOKE having a stake in each licence and able to control the investments - a proposal shale companies criticised as too far-reaching.

"Today we understand that in order to count money from shale gas, we must first of all begin to extract it," Tusk said at a news conference along with recently appointed Environment Minister Maciej Grabowski.

"We need to cut down on bureaucracy concerning shale gas exploration. To encourage the exploration we have to prepare a less rigorous bill."

After winning government approval, the draft law must still pass through parliament - a process that could take a few months.

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