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The Warsaw Voice » Business » August 2, 2010
Business & Economy
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Quest for Gas
August 2, 2010   
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A host of Polish and foreign businesses are looking for unconventional gas deposits across Poland. If the search—at several dozen sites, for the time being—produces results, it may help the country become less dependent on natural gas deliveries from Russia.

Demand for natural gas in Poland continues to rise and is expected to grow from 14 billion cubic meters this year to 20 billion cu m in 2030. Poland has some natural gas deposits of its own, but these are insufficient to keep industry and households running, and so over 60 percent of natural gas used in the country is imported. The figure could be reduced if unconventional gas deposits are found in the country.

According to the most optimistic predictions, Poland may be sitting on anywhere from 1 to 3 trillion cubic meters of shale gas. Apart from shale gas, which occurs in clayey rocks, unconventional gas deposits include tight gas in low-permeability sandstone and carbonate rocks and coalbed methane extracted from coal beds.

The search for unconventional gas is being carried out by several foreign corporations, including companies from the United States and Canada, as well as Poland’s oil and gas extraction company Polskie Górnictwo Naftowe i Gazownictwo (PGNiG). All these companies hold several dozen licenses between them to search for gas in different parts of the country. PGNiG has 13 licenses to drill on sites with shale gas potential and another six licenses for possible tight gas deposits.

In July, PGNiG commissioned the Halliburton corporation from the United States to perform the first major “hydraulic fracturing” operation in the Markowola-1 exploratory well (see photo below) near Kozienice, Lublin province, to check if the site contained deposits of tight gas.

“If the fracturing proves successful, work will begin shortly to prepare the deposit for extraction,” said Piotr Glinek, a department director at PGNiG. “We predict this could happen in three to four years.”

The technology used to extract unconventional gas involves a vertical bore-hole followed by horizontal drilling. Hydraulic fracturing is the next stage, during which water mixed with sand and chemical substances are pumped down the bore-hole under high pressure. The water cracks the rocks under the ground releasing gas, which reaches the surface through the hole.

PGNiG plans to spend zl.660 million searching for oil and gas this year. A part of the amount will go to search for unconventional gas depending on how much is needed. The most likely figure is over zl.100 million, the company says.
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