While the shale industry continues to boom in the United States, Europe continues to struggle to keep up. However, just last week, the Polish government announced it would earmark hundreds of millions of zlotys (Polish currency) in support of the development of “homegrown” technologies for use with unconventional resources. This is part of the country’s plan to develop shale resources and gain increased independence of Russian gas, as the country could very well be sitting on a vast natural resource.
The core goals of the program are to reduce costs of drilling, provide Polish companies with domestic technologies and to, eventually, stabilize Poland as a shale technologies world player. The 1 billion zloty project (about $293 million) will be backed by state agencies, National Center for Research and Development (NCBiR) and the Agency for Industrial Development (ARP), as well as state-controlled companies.
Helping with the research will be universities of Krakow, Warsaw and Gdansk, in hopes that the program will provide essential and solid support for the continued development of the shale gas industry in Poland.
Some officials, like Minister of Science and Education Barbara Kudrcyka, believe that Poland might in fact become the next major producer of natural shale gas, after the United States. Kudrcyka hopes that Poland can become a global shale gas expert and develop new methods with a particular attention to the natural environment. One way Poland is hoping to get ahead in the shale race is to ask for help from the experts. You guessed it—the Americans. University of Science and Technology Professor Stanislaw Nagy concludes that one of the only ways to enhance capabilities in Poland is to entice American scientists to work in Poland.
Poland has already granted 111 shale exploration licences to United States groups like Chevron and Exxon Mobil. Current recoverable shale gas reserves in Poland are estimated at 346 to 768 billion cubic meters (bcm), notably lower than an earlier estimate of 5.3 trillion bcm by the U.S. Energy Information Association.
Exxon Mobile pulled out of Polish exploration projects just last month as it did not see the country as “economically viable.” Hopefully, in the near future, Poland will be able to lead by example other European countries in the quest for clean, natural gas.