Poland will use Chinese experiences to revive its stalled exploration efforts, in line with an agreement on cooperation in mining and geology the two countries signed on October 28.
China began exploring for shale gas at roughly the same time as Poland did, yet it is the Asian country that can boast a functioning shale gas industry with about 800 wells drilled to date, which produced 1.3bn cubic metres (cm) of gas in 2014.
By comparison, Poland, once thought to have enough shale gas reserves to end its dependency on Russian gas, has drilled just 71 wells in the last five years and is yet to see any production.
“There is no question our partner is much more advanced [in shale gas exploration]. The Chinese government is subsidising production, but also China, like Poland, has difficult geological conditions and that is why we were keen to start cooperating,” Poland’s deputy minister of environment, Slawomir Brodzinski, said in a statement.
Poland is hoping the cooperation with the Chinese will bear fruit in terms of speeding up work on a technology to allow shale production under Poland’s challenging geological conditions. The current tempo of exploration is too slow for proper technology to emerge, as most explorers have now left, citing geology, administrative problems and an unfavourable market environment for exploration, especially the low price of oil.
Poland has an estimated 346bn-769bn cm of gas, according to a report from the country’s geological survey from 2012. The estimate is to receive an update towards the end of 2015, based on data from wells drilled to date.
Poland’s new ruling party Law and Justice (PiS) has vowed in its programme to make shale gas one of the pillars of Polish energy security. The party is yet to nominate a new environment minister, whose role is overseeing the licensing process for oil and gas exploration.