(Adds background, context)
By Christian Lowe
WARSAW Jan 31 U.S. energy major Chevron Corp
said it will stop exploring for shale gas in Poland, a
sector that has failed to live up to its early promise of
transforming eastern Europe's energy supplies.
Chevron's Polish unit "has decided to discontinue shale gas
operations in Poland as the opportunities here no longer compete
favourably with other opportunities in Chevron's global
portfolio", the company said in a statement.
Exxon Mobil, Total and Marathon Oil
have also stopped shale gas exploration in Poland over
the past three years.
They, and other energy firms, were originally attracted by
estimates of massive shale gas reserves in Poland.
But since they launched exploration, the estimates have been
downgraded, geological conditions for drilling have proved
difficult, and industry executives complain of uncertainty about
In the past few months, the sharp fall in world energy
prices has forced energy majors to make cuts in spending and
pull the plug on faltering investment projects.
Shale gas is under a cloud too in Romania, where Chevron is
also active. Prime Minister Victor Ponta said in November last
year it seemed likely Romania has no shale gas, despite the
efforts to find it.
Governments in eastern Europe, especially Poland, Romania
and Lithuania, embraced shale gas enthusiastically because they
saw it as a way of reducing their reliance on imported energy
They view those imports as a source of vulnerability because
they have tense relations with the Kremlin, and their supplies
have been disrupted in the past.
However, eastern Europe is already diversifying supplies by
other means, mainly through importing liquefied natural gas from
supplies such as Qatar, and by building better connections with
western Europe's gas pipeline network.
(Reporting by Christian Lowe; Editing by Mark Heinrich)