* Draft shale gas law to be ready within weeks- minister
* Government to discuss law before end-Dec
* Shale gas tax law to be in a separate draft later on
WARSAW, Nov 26 (Reuters) - Poland’s environment ministry will prepare a draft law to regulate the exploration and extraction of shale gas and send it to the government for approval before the end of the year, its new environment minister said.
Maciej Grabowski added that speeding up the extraction of shale gas was one of his priorities, and passing the bill would make investing in shale easier.
“I believe that one can achieve environmental goals by tying them to economic goals in a way more friendly for investors,” Grabowski told newspaper Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.
“We would like the law facilitating investment in shale to be passed as soon as possible to reduce the potential risk for investors,” he said.
However, Grabowski added that the law on shale gas taxes would be prepared by the finance ministry in a separate bill later on.
Poland had counted on an expected abundance of shale gas to boost growth and reduce its reliance on Russian oil and gas.
But investors, already jolted by the government’s conservative revision of shale reserves estimates, have grown concerned about its protracted work on a tax and regulation regime announced in October last year.
ExxonMobil has already decided to abandon its Polish plans, although other global players such as Chevron and ConocoPhilips remain determined to extract unconventional gas in Poland.
Grabowski said that Poland needed to drill 3 to 4 times more exploration wells to know if commercial extraction of shale gas is viable.
“200 to 250 wells will allow us to find out if commercial extraction is realistic,” he said.
The new minister, who is to be formally sworn in later on Wednesday, added that Poland was ready to form an alliance within the European Union, possibly with the United Kingdom, to defend its right to explore and extract shale gas against any possible plans of the EU parliament.
“I know what is happening in Brussels, some concern is warranted,” Grabowski said. “If there is need we will act in an unambiguous way on many front lines and create coalitions to back our position.”