February 21, 2013 / 2:15 PM / 5 years ago

Polish firms push back shale gas deal deadline to May

WARSAW, Feb 21 (Reuters) - The companies aiming to develop Poland’s shale gas resources said on Thursday they had set a new deadline of May 4 to reach a deal on how to cooperate.

Gas monopoly PGNiG, copper miner KGHM and utilities PGE, Tauron and Enea agreed last July to spend 1.7 billion zlotys ($547 million) on joint exploration and extraction of shale gas.

But have since failed to work out details, missing a November deadline and another on February 4.

“The change in deadlines is due to ongoing talks on detailed conditions of the cooperation,” the companies said in separate statements.

Poland has Europe’s most ambitious plans for shale gas as it aims to reduce its dependence for natural gas imports from Russia, which supplies the majority of Poland’s annual consumption of almost 15 billion cubic metres.

The country’s shale plans have suffered setbacks, however, after its estimated recoverable reserves were slashed by 90 percent and U.S. oil major ExxonMobil dropped plans to explore for shale in Poland.

Potential investors have also complained about a lack of clarity in Poland where a new shale gas law is still in the works.

$1 = 3.1096 Polish zlotys Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko; editing by Jason Neely

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