* Foreign firms pull-out worries officials
* New laws aimed to ease exploring and extracting shale
* American companies "especially" needed
By Agnieszka Barteczko
KATOWICE, Poland, May 14 Poland will adopt a
bill by the end of June aimed at making its shale gas sector
more friendly to wary investors, Polish officials said on
Tuesday - reflecting the sector's need for foreign capital and
The new laws would make it easier for companies to explore
and extract unconventional gas, Poland's Environment Minister
Marcin Korolec told an energy conference.
The new regime would lighten the many bureaucratic obstacles
to exploration, including environmental limitations, and create
a state operator to take part in energy consortia.
"I expect the shale gas draft bill to be adopted by the end
of June and Parliament should do the same by the end of the
year," he told the conference.
Analysts have long said Poland needs to adopt laws that will
give the stability and predictability foreign investors need as
they compete with local state-controlled firms.
The move follow last week's announcement by Canada Talisman
Energy and U.S. major Marathon oil they will
leave Poland, worrying officials who see shale gas as a key way
to reduce reliance on Russian supplies.
"Foreign capital is incredibly important for the development
of shale gas exploration in Poland, as Polish companies do not
have the experience and capital needed," Deputy Environment
Minister Piotr Wozniak said at the conference, declining to
address the two firms' decisions to leave.
"It is especially American companies that Poland has to rely
on, as they are the most experienced ones," he added.
The initial optimism among investors has been tempered by an
unsettled regulatory landscape, and a downgrade of estimates for
the size of potential reserves.
U.S. oil major Exxon pulled out last year, citing
poor drilling results.
Poland has issued more than 100 shale gas exploration
licences, and some 40 test wells are in operation, though none
is expected to start producing gas before 2015.
Foreign permit-holders still active in Poland include Chevron
Corp of the United States and Italy's ENI.