PKN Orlen, which has five permits to explore for gas in the southeast of Poland, is in talks with Exxon, Chevron, and Marathon Oil concerning cooperation in searching for shale gas. The leader on the Polish fuels market, and itself a significant "consumer” of natural gas, is exploring for the resource in southeastern Poland. The company will be seeking it in the form of shale gas as well.
We estimate that as far as shale gas is concerned we’ll be able to outline where and when we can drill test wells by the end of October, after the siesmographic tests have been completed, and also with whom we'll be doing it. We are in discussions with Exxon, Chevron, and Marathon Oil, whose permits cover the areas adjacent to ours, concerning cooperation in the exploration effort,”, said Wiesław Prugar, President of Orlen Upstream, which is responsible for fuel exploration. Orlen has had the permits for exploration for natural gas since 2007, and they cover an area of about five thousand square kilometers. Shale gas, which has been increasingly a subject of discussion in Poland, is very similar in makeup to the gas widely used in homes. It is, however, trapped in rock and to be released, the rock must be fractured, which requires horizontal drilling and other costly technological processes. The Canadians have the most experience in extracting this type of gas, along with the Americans with whom Orlen seeks to work in partnership. In the USA, shale gas extraction yielded about fifty-eight billion cubic metres, or about ten percent of the total gas yield, and the total resources to be extracted in the United States are estimated at 7.5 to 23.6 trillion cubic metres. The shale gas resources in Poland could equal as much as three trillion cubic metres. It is not surprising that the environmental authorities have issued over forty permits for exploration. The enterprise will not be cheap, however. “At the outset we are planning to start by drilling two wells. This could take place as early as next year. The cost of one such well is between twenty-five and thirty million PLN. Naturally, we would like to share those costs, and along with them the potential rewards, with our partners. The American companies have experience in exploring for shale gas and by partnering with them, we should be able to accelerate the geological works," explained President Wiesław Prugar. Poland is not the only country in Europe where shale gas resources, whose extraction should be financially rewarding, are to be found. Geological studies show that this kind of gas may be present in France, Germany, Austria and Hungary. Everywhere in Europe, however, exploration for shale gas is at the stage of finding the deposits. It will be years before extraction on an industrial scale can begin. “We see the opportunity to extract shale gas optimistically, but what the reality is will be seen when the test wells produce results, which will take three to four years. If the wells confirm that the gas is worth extracting, then industrial exploitation of the shale gas could start in about ten years,” said President Prugar.
Ireneusz Chojnacki - Dziennik Gazeta Prawna no 51 - 15-03-2010