A discussion panel entitled ‘Shale Gas Exploration in Poland: A Scorecard’ took place in the Warsaw office of the German Marshall Fund (GMF) on December 15, 2011. Moderated by Dr Andrew Michta, the panel featured Prof. Alan Riley, an energy specialist from City University London; Tomasz Maj, the Country Manager and Vice President of Talisman Energy Polska, and Ms Katarzyna Kacperczyk of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland. The three specialists, each from a different field, engaged in a lively discussion on the current state of play in shale gas development, its larger European dimension and the likely impact it might have on delivering energy in Europe.
Ms Kacperczyk said that the Polish government supports the exploration process due to the likely positive impact it could have on energy security, decarbonizing the EU industry, and the economic growth of Poland and its individual regions. At the same time she acknowledged that in the initial stage of development, the project remains a big unknown. According to Tomasz Maj, what Poland needs is a sensible and realistic consideration of the costs and instruments required to develop and produce shale gas – a discussion which is currently being bypassed. He appealed to the government to start thinking of a regulatory framework and other practical measures necessary for the development of this industry. Prof. Alan Riley recognized that shale gas has great potential as an economic multiplier but in order to successfully establish the industry in Poland a supervising cadre of well trained officials would be necessary.
Asked about the potential of shale gas to aid with the liberalization of the Polish energy market, Prof. Riley remarked that a single EU gas market would offer far greater benefits. Poland should not strive for self-reliance of energy supplies but should notice that by adding shale gas to EU energy sources and thus diversifying its supplies, the Union may become a more attractive market player.
It was also acknowledged that the current discussion between the industry and the government regarding the development of the project is limited. There is a clear need to streamline the dialogue between the government, businesses, and other stakeholders. The three panelists agreed that the potential problems for the environment and local communities would be the major obstacles in moving from the development to the production of gas.