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Polish shale gas drilling starts

17 Jun 2010 17:53 (+01:00 GMT)
Polish shale gas drilling starts

Warsaw, 17 June (Argus) — A joint venture of ConocoPhillips and UK-based independent Lane Energy has started to drill for shale gas in northern Poland in what is seen as the first move in a series of investments by firms hoping to find commercially viable shale reserves in the country.

ConocoPhillips and Lane Energy started to drill a well located in the onshore Baltic basin near the town of Lebork in northern Poland, Lane Energy said.

The joint venture is targeting Silurian and Ordovician shale reserves and expects to drill a well to a planned depth of about 3,000m within six to eight weeks, Lane Energy said.

The well is the first of two that Lane Energy and ConocoPhillips plan to drill in Poland this year. Both will be mainly used to collect scientific material, which will allow the joint venture to start horizontal drilling in 2011.

Lane Energy and ConocoPhillips are among a number of companies that are hoping to replicate US shale gas success in central Europe.

The Polish environment ministry has granted more than 40 licences since 2008 to domestic and international firms for shale gas exploration in the country.

The Polish institute of geology estimates that Poland's producible deposits could be as high as 1.4 trillion m³, equal to 100 years of Poland's current annual consumption.

But some gas specialists point to a number of obstacles that could prevent Polish shale gas deposits from becoming commercially viable projects. UK-based firm Bernstein Research said recently that geology, environment and land access issues are not as favourable in Poland as in the US. “Expectations for a European shale gas revolution are premature,” the company said.

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