Poland invites China to help with shale gas push

By bne IntelliNews June 1, 2012

Tim Gosling in Prague -

Poland has invited Chinese cooperation in the development of its shale gas resources, reports local media, in a further attempt by Warsaw to make it the Asian giant's premier partner in Central and Eastern Europe.

Polish Deputy Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak met with Chinese Minister of Industry and Information Technology Miao Wei in Beijing on May 30 to discuss potential cooperation in the gas and energy sectors, reports Puls Biznesu. "We are interested in cooperating with China on the exploitation of shale gas deposits. Our research and development institutes could exchange knowledge and experience in this field," Pawlak told reporters.

Warsaw would also welcome Chinese investment in renewable energy, the newspaper said. "China has recently been developing its renewable energy sector intensively, as evidenced by its position as a world leader in solar cell production, and its position as one of the world's biggest manufacturers of wind turbines," Miao pointed out.

The news comes two days after it was reported that Bank of China plans to launch operations in Warsaw in early June. The bank will be used as a base for helping Chinese entities invest in Poland, with the priorities being infrastructure, energy and new technology.

Those are the same sectors that Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao identified as the targets when announcing a $10bn credit fund dedicated to CEE during a visit to Warsaw in late April. The Bank of China added that it may also offer support to Chinese companies interested in the privatization of Polish companies.

"Europe is in a financial crisis, and the Polish economy still thrives and has been less affected by the crisis than other European countries," Wenbo Hou, general manager of Bank of China in Poland, told Pap. "We have analyzed the Polish market for two years, we decided that the Polish economy has great potential and we want to do business here. There are also more Chinese companies that are in Poland or have plans to enter this market."

Poland's push to develop its shale gas reserves kicked off a couple of years ago when it issued hundreds of exploration licenses, many to US majors, in a bid to harness their experience in extracting the gas. However, after reports suggested recoverable reserves may not be as large as estimated, Warsaw began pushing state-controlled companies to lead the charge, and some foreign investors have complained that they are being discriminated against in new tenders. The introduction of Chinese investors would make relations even more complex.

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