* French company says gas find wasn't economically viable
* Marks further setback for Poland's fledgling shale sector
* Warsaw anxious to wean itself off Russian energy
(Adds company comment, background)
WARSAW, April 14 France's Total has
not renewed its only shale gas exploration licence in Poland, a
spokesman for the company said on Monday, highlighting the
problems Warsaw faces in reducing its reliance on Russian
The company said that, despite the presence of gas, it had
concluded the area it was exploring in eastern Poland near the
Ukraine border was not economically viable.
Poland launched a major push into shale three years ago when
Prime Minister Donald Tusk announced it would seek to produce
unconventional gas on a commercial scale in 2014 to help the
country wean itself off predominately Russian supplies.
Poland has increased its efforts to diversify its energy
portfolio following supply shutdowns linked to disputes between
Russia and Ukraine, which are now threatening to come to a head
following Moscow's annexation of Crimea.
In March 2012 a government report cut Poland's estimated
shale gas reserves by about 90 percent.
That report, plus a lack of a legal framework and some poor
initial drilling results prompted Marathon Oil, Talisman
Energy and Exxon Mobil to pull out of Poland.
Total said it would consider future shale opportunities in
"Poland remains a promising country for shale gas, but the
exploration process is in its infancy and the industry needs
more data and time to understand the geology of Polish
sedimentary basins," a Total spokesman said, adding that the
license had expired on March 31.
Earlier this year, 3Legs Resources chief executive
said three new shale test wells to be drilled this year should
shed light on Poland's shale gas potential. 3Legs is partnered
with Conoco Phillips in Poland.
Chevron is also still operating in Poland.
Poland plans to tap its shale gas resources with a technique
known as fracking, which has drawn protests on environmental
grounds in Britain and Germany.
The plans in Poland, which is also building a liquefied
natural gas (LNG) terminal on its Baltic coast to help boost
energy security, have not given rise to similar opposition.
(Reporting by Marcin Goclowski, additional reporting by Michel
Rose in Paris, writing by Michael Kahn; editing by Jason Neely,