At the beginning of the debate the moderator – Wojciech Jakóbik welcomed all guests and presented the issue, which was going to be discussed – mainly the future of shale gas in Poland. He mentioned that everything started with the report of U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), which showed that there are 5.3 million cubic metres of shale gas in Poland. This information triggered a heated debate in the Polish media. Many experts started to comment on this issue. It can be stated that this report was a beginning of the “shale revolution” in Poland. But we can also observe many problems which arose in connection with this revolution. There are both positive and negative opinions about e.g. the methods of shale gas extraction and its influence on the environment. According to surveys, most Polish people are for shale gas extraction and support further development. The experts were going to answer the questions connected with this issue and dispel many doubts.
The first participant who made a speech was Przemysław Krogulec. With the help of a prepared presentation he brought nearer some problems connected with shale gas extraction. The presentation showed what PGNiG does in the direction of shale gas extraction. He reminded that PGNiG is active also abroad and is a leader of gas extraction. They have 93 licenses to search for gas and additionally they have 225 export licenses. But it is difficult to estimate exactly how much shale gas reserves there are in Poland. Real “doggers” do not care about such numbers. They care about the ways to get to these reserves and extract them. It can turn out that it is not profitable to extract shale gas in Poland. There are already 46 bores in Poland. But none of them can be called “positive” right now. Mr Krogulec made listeners familiar with basic knowledge about the geological aspects of shale gas and technical aspects of shale gas extraction. He highlighted that in the case of slates the pores are impervious and they need to be fractured. He reminded of the history of all bores already existing. Now in some bores they are trying to check if the flow of gas will be possible in any way. This tests are going to last. They are preparing to make new bores. He stated that this gas can be extracted but we still need some time. The Americans needed approximately 20 years to start extracting shale gas. We can try to use American methods of extraction in Poland but they work well only to some extent. Polish slates are geologically a bit different that slates extracted in the USA. That is why many geomechanical problems arise. For sure, it will not last months or a year but definitely much longer. At the end of his speech he reminded us that it can turn out that the reserves are too small to make extraction profitable. We need to wait. We know that we have shale gas reserves but it may take some years to extract this gas on a large scale.
The speakers made us familiar with international issues connected with shale gas. Poland belongs to the countries with the biggest reserves of shale gas in the world. For example France did not agree to extract shale gas. We cannot forget that France is a power when it comes to nuclear energy. When it comes to the influence of shale gas we have noticed that it can be multidimensional. It is connected with the energy security and secondly it influences economy and environment. The gas prices for East European countries are much higher that the prices for West European Countries. The issue of gas delivery is also different – our gas is mainly delivered from Russia. What is the influence on energy security of shale gas? Global supply will double and the reserves of Europe will also increase. What is more, shale gas has changed market conditions. It can improve the negotiable power of the countries, which import gas. When it comes to American economy, one bore in Marcellus formation can bring about 4 million dollars of economic benefits. Additionally more work places are created. Very often it is said, that many chemical companies are injured parties because of e.g. high prices of gas needed for production of fertilisers (in some cases this costs make up to 50% of costs of production). American and Canadian companies complained about high gas prices and the competition of cheap Asian producers. This “shale boom” was very profitable for such chemical companies – even the ones no longer active were reopened. When it comes to the influence on Poland, first forecasts show that the impact on economic growth would be similar as in the case of EU accession. When it comes to the creation on new work places, it would be also profitable, not to mention budget incomes. We cannot forget the benefits connected with the technical development and benefits for local societies connected with new investments. According to studies no negative influence on the environment has been observed: either in the form of CO2 emission, radioactivity or water contamination. To sum up, she stated that oil crisis contributed to the beginning of searching for new solutions and that is why now we are talking about shale gas. We can say that necessity is the mother of invention.
The last speaker was Andrzej Szcześniak. At the beginning he highlighted that the main question everyone should ask is “What has happened?” and “What kind of circumstances do we have right now?”. The Americans connected some technologies and achieved success. They achieved technological advance thanks to three things: great reserves, technological development and favourable legal conditions. So they decided to change their advance into a political tool and created Global Shale Gas Initiative. Poland opened up to this initiative and gave away nearly all licenses. The USA opened their markets and locked it in. But our strategy is too fast. Main players are the USA and Europe. But European reserves are not as big as American ones. Secondly, our legal and social conditions are incomparable to American ones. Europe wants to wait and see. France decided to wait until technology is more developed. Poland is trying to encourage Europe to open to new drillings. We should highlight that these are American drillings, as right now we do not have any other. Later on, he said about our Polish interests. We have an option to repeat the success of American, Norwegian and Chinese model. Norway built a great industry and started to build it from scratch. The second model is “oil curse” like in Nigeria – a lot of concerns comes to the country but they do not create their own industry and there appears e.g. corruption and there are no benefits for the country. Of course they are extreme examples. But we still have a dilemma what to choose. American model probably cannot be repeated in Poland on such a scale because we do not have such reserves. But we can adopt a part of the American project, which would bring at least partial success. We should think if energy security is a good argument for Poland. Should we change a model of gas import (trade relationship with Russia) into such a model, when many mining companies come to Poland and start to drill about 1000 bores every year? He thinks that there would not be enough place for it. He thinks that the model, when big companies come to Poland and bore is not a good idea. The model in which these big companies set rules taking into account only their profits is not known for Poland. We are not used to such a model. He thinks that we should think reasonably and keep restraint and base our shale gas extraction on the American, Norwegian and Chinese model. At the end of the conference there was a discussion. Listeners could ask questions and they got comprehensive answers.