Poland pins hopes on shale gas deposits
(CNN: May 28) - The Polish government is funding exploratory research into whether or not it should drill for shale gas. Coal currently provides 90 percent of Poland's energy, making it one of Europe's most heavily dependent nations on traditional fossil fuels and the biggest European coal exporter. But the country is committed to reducing carbon emissions by 20 percent by 2020.
If substantial reserves of natural gas are found buried deep in Poland's shale rock formations, many believe it could also loosen Russia's grip on Western Europe's energy market. "Poland is arguably the biggest focus for shale gas in all of Europe," says Beata Stelmach, Poland's Deputy Foreign Minister. "But it is not at all clear how many reserves there are. ... That won't be known for another three to five years. There is some worry that early high estimates were widely overenthusiastic."
The Polish government invited big energy companies like Chevron to explore potential gas fields in the southeast of the country. While Chevron has experience developing shale gas in the U.S., Poland is a new frontier where little is known. "If you look at the shales in the U.S., they have had hundreds or thousands of penetrations before, really, exploration began. (In Poland) there is just a lot less information," says John Claussen of Chevron.