WARSAW, June 17 (Reuters) - The first shale gas well in Poland producing large-scale commercial quantities of gas may be launched this year, Environment Minister Maciej Grabowski was quoted as saying on Tuesday.
He added that so far there have been over 60 exploratory shale gas wells drilled in Poland and he expects a further 40 such wells drilled by the end of the year, meaning millions of dollars of further spending on exploration.
“I am in constant contact with firms exploring gas,” Grabowski told the Dziennik Gazeta Prawna newspaper. “They say that commercial extraction could be launched the soonest in the Pomerania region (near the Baltic coast).”
“And there are chances that the first such well will be launched this year.”
Grabowski said that the ministry estimates that firms looking for shale gas in Poland have so far spent about 2 billion zlotys ($658.54 million), with the cost of each exploration well at about 50 million zlotys ($16.46 million).
This spending boom led United Oilfield Services to open a logistics base in Poland in August last year. U.S. giant Halliburton is also constructing a hub for Polish operations.
Grabowski said the bill that would regulate shale gas extraction could be finally passed by parliament before the summer break.
Poland is the leader in shale gas drilling in Europe.
The country has ambitions to replicate the U.S. shale boom, but a downgrade in estimates of its gas reserves, more difficult geological conditions than in the United States and the exit of some global energy firms have cast doubts on its prospects.
In a potential turnaround, energy firm San Leon hailed the first successful shale test in Poland in January. ($1 = 3.0370 Polish Zlotys) (Reporting by Marcin Goettig; Editing by Michael Urquhart)