WARSAW Dec 7 U.S. oil major Exxon Mobil
agreed to sell two shale gas exploration concessions in Poland
to the country's top refiner PKN Orlen for an
undisclosed price, the groups said on Friday.
Exxon dropped its exploration plans in June after test wells
failed to produce commercial quantities of gas, dealing a blow
to Poland's hopes of becoming a major producer of the
The local shale gas industry was eager to know what would
happen with the U.S. group's six concessions. It has to date
relinquished three and, after the completion of the deal with
PKN, will still have to decide on the fate of one.
The deal, subject to approval from the environment ministry
which handles exploration permits in Poland, marks PKN's growing
leverage in developing resources that could help Poland cut its
dependence on Russian supplies.
It will increase the number of PKN's shale gas exploration
licences to 10. The group plans to allocate up to 5.1 billion
zlotys ($1.6 billion) on exploration projects, mainly shale gas,
in the years 2013-2017.
PKN and another state-controlled group PGNiG stand
at the forefront of Poland's shale gas drive.
Central and Eastern Europe's largest economy relies on
Russia's Gazprom for more than half the gas it
consumes. Warsaw wants commercial production of shale gas to
start as soon as possible so it can limit this dependence.
Poland had high hopes for shale gas after a U.S. study from
2011 estimated Polish reserves at 5.3 trillion cubic metres,
enough to cover domestic demand for some 300 years.
But estimated reserves were slashed to about a tenth of that
in a government report published in March.