| WARSAW, July 6
WARSAW, July 6 Poland, Europe's shale gas
pioneer, expects companies to drill at least 41 more wells this
year to shed more light on the country's gas potential.
The environment ministry, which has granted 111 rights to
drill for shale gas to companies including Chevron and
Exxon Mobil, also said on Friday there were "a few tens"
of new requests for exploration licences awaiting approval.
"The more wells we make in a short period of time, the
faster we will get a confirmation of our forecasts regarding
shale gas resources," it said. Analysts have said that to get a
clear picture of the size and quality of shale gas reserves in
Poland at least 100 wells must be drilled.
Poland has pegged its recoverable shale gas reserves at
346-768 billion cubic metres, below an earlier estimate of 5.3
trillion by the U.S. Energy Information Association, dashing
hopes the country could become one of Europe's largest gas
So far, 23 shale gas wells have been drilled in Poland with
a further six are in the works. Licence holders are obliged to
drill at least 122 wells by 2021, a number that could grow by a
further 186 wells, the ministry said.
The European Union member is making a large bet on shale gas
as it could help the country's coal-reliant economy meet the
challenges of the EU's climate policy, even while some countries
have banned shale exploration pending environmental studies.
It could also help gas monopoly PGNiG in talks
with Russian group Gazprom over prices in its
long-term contract, which the Polish side sees as being
Last month, Exxon pulled out of exploration projects because
it did not deem them economically viable, increasing pressure on
Poland to rely more on state companies to fund the costly
On Wednesday, a consortium of five state-controlled Polish
companies agreed to spend 1.7 billion zlotys ($500 million) on
joint shale gas exploration and extraction, partly as a result
of government pressure to intensify shale gas efforts.
The partners agreed to search for gas in three locations on
PGNiG licences near Wejherowo, a town in the north of Poland, by
running one vertical and around 12 horizontal wells on each.
PGNiG wants to start production as soon as 2016.
"The scale of investments planned on this licence will
become a template for other licences," the ministry said.