On January 25, 2012 the GMF Warsaw Office hosted an off-the-record roundtable discussion on the exploration of shale gas from the Polish and EU perspectives. The event featured two visiting Fellows from the Transatlantic Academy, Corey Johnson and Tim Boersma, who are focusing on the opportunities and geopolitical significance of shale gas as part of the Transatlantic Academy’s year of research on “Natural Resources: The New Geopolitical Great Game?” The event brought together government and think tank officials. Prior to the visit to Warsaw, the Fellows made a two-day stopover in Brussels to learn how the shale gas debate is being perceived within the EU institutions.
The discussion focused on key issues that continue to affect shale gas exploration andon urgent challenges which need to be addressed by the government, industry and environmental organizations. Topics included the regulatory landscape within the EU and the EU’s attitude towards shale gas exploration, as well as the geopolitical impact unconventional gas might have on energy security and the energy mix in Europe. Infrastructural obstacles were also touched upon, including the lack of adequate foundation for gas transport in Poland, as well as environmental concerns about deforestation in the United States.
The next day the fellows and GMF Warsaw Office representative Aleksandra Przygoda visited a drilling rig operated by Talisman Energy near the Polish village of Rogity, two hours east of Gdansk and a few miles from the Russian border. The group spent several hours touring the site with drilling superintendent Jan Kijowski, who explained operation procedures and discussed the early stage at which shale gas exploration in Poland currently stands.