WARSAW Polish internal security agency ABW Tuesday detained seven people, including state officials, suspected of bribery related to the granting of shale gas exploration licences.
Shale gas development in Poland is attracting keen interest after a U.S. study showed it could have the biggest reserves in Europe, amounting to some 5.3 trillion cubic meters of recoverable gas.
"The seven people include three Environment Ministry officials, one from the Polish Geological Institute and three businessmen representing companies holding licences for shale gas exploration," ABW said in a statement. The agency did not name the companies.
Technological innovation has made accessible large resources of so-called unconventional gas, notably from shale - soft, finely stratified sedimentary rock.
Warsaw has granted more than 100 exploration permits and hopes to start producing shale gas in 2014, looking forward to a fresh source of budget revenues and reduced dependence on imports of gas from Russia.
The prospects of developing a shale gas market in Poland has attracted global heavyweights such as Chevron, Exxon Mobil and Marathon Oil to operate alongside local companies PGNiG, Lotos and PKN Orlen.
(Reporting by Maciej Onoszko; Editing by Gabriela Baczynska and Anthony Barker)