Total pulls out of Polish shale gas exploration
PR dla Zagranicy
French oil company Total has failed to renew a license to tap for shale gas in Chelm, south east Poland, following in the footsteps of several international concerns.
Pawel Mikusek, a spokesman for the Ministry of the Environment, claimed that “not much had happened” at the site during Total's tenure of the license.
He said that the company “had treated it like property, probably so as to show share-holders that they have a license in Poland.”
However, a recent change in regulations governing licenses means that licensees must pay if they are not carrying out work on the site, a factor which Mikusek believes proved decisive for Total.
Poland is hoping for a surge in activity from companies engaged in the bid to explore the country's shale gas potential.
Last month, the Polish cabinet approved a belated draft law that would provide a six-year tax break to companies involved in the programme.
Earlier, lack of clarity in the law had prompted some major international companies, including Marathon Oil and Exxon Mobil, to pull out of their shale programmes in Poland.
Pawel Mikusek has claimed that in spite of Total's pull-out, Irish company San Leon is abandoning plans to invest in Turkey, and will instead be focusing on Poland.
Recent successes in Poland's shale gas programme include “excellent gas readings” by California-based oil company BNK Petroleum in Gapowo, northern Poland.
With Polish-Russian relations currently severely strained over the Ukrainian crisis, Prime Minister Donald Tusk has repeatedly stressed the necessity for Poland to free itself from what he calls "gas blackmail," namely dependence on Russian natural gas.
Poland is currently enagaged in a far-reaching bid to broaden its energy portfolio. Besides shale and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) programmes, the government also wants the first part of a nuclear power station to be up and running within a decade.
Although America's Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimated that Poland could have the biggest shale deposits in Europe (5 trillion cubic metres), more recent estimates by Poland's State Geological Institute are lower, at 345.7 billion cubic metres. (nh)