Friday, 23 August 2013

It is much too early to write the epitaph for Poland's shale gas future

Gazprom, the world's most corrupt energy company, has been lobbying furiously in Brussels for EU-wide legislation to curb fracking. Particularly the Russians have been targeting shale gas exploration in Poland. The Russians have evidently also been sponsoring a number of "experts" who have written down Polish shale gas hopes in western media:

The Polish intelligence service (ABW) warned in a declassified report last year that Russian spies are engaged in widespread espionage operations targeting Poland's shale projects. --

"There have been a number of very poor bore holes so far," said Mr Poprawa, now at the Energy Studies Institute in Warsaw. "This has to be admitted, but it was mostly due to lack of experience by PGNiG [Poland's gas leader] rather than the geology. We need at least 100 lateral drills to reach any conclusion. So far there have only been six."

Poland may not be the next Norway - the fond hope of foreign minister Radek Sikorski - and its failure to draw up a legal regime that is remotely fit for purpose threatens an exodus of foreign explorers. But anti-frackers have also been too quick to write the epitaph of Poland's shale drive. --

"We have already proved 12 to 18 trillion cubic feet of recoverable gas in our bloc. We are delighted," said San Leon's Mr Fanning. That alone is two years of Polish imports. ExxonMobil's widely reported withdrawal from Poland has been from the Lublin Basin to the south, an entirely different story. "Nobody is pulling out of the Baltic Basin," he said.

Mr Fanning said it is a "fallacy" that Polish shale gas is unusually hard to extract. "The rocks are 2,500 to 4,000 metres deep, which is not so different from the US. Even if they are deeper, there is more pressure, so you get more gas. It balances out.

"The catalyst that is missing in Poland is sheer intensity of drilling. You need 60 wells in each area to find the right 'recipe', and until you start fracking you are just guessing. There have been only three or four horizontal fracks in the country so far."

The authorities have not made it easy. "Everything has been far too slow. The higher levels of the government are committed, but once you go lower, you get bogged down in the old Communist bureaucracy. It took a year to get permission just to drill deeper, so we had to stop and wait. This was very irritating, but it has been cleared up now."

Read the entire article here

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