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Eni enters Poland’s shale-gas race

Six-well shale-gas drilling programme in 2011; Baltic basin ‘highly prospective’ says Eni

ENI will drill for shale gas in Poland’s Baltic basin in 2011 after agreeing to buy a local developer for an undisclosed sum. The deal will give Eni three licences, covering almost 2,000 square km, in the northeast of the country. The Italian company will begin drilling the first of six wells in 2011, it says.

Eni says the area is a “highly prospective shale-gas play” and that Poland is “the ideal environment” in which to develop the resource. Estimates of the country’s shale-gas reserves range from 1.5-3.0 trillion cubic metres (cm). But Greg Pytel, an energy-policy analyst at the Sobieski Institute, a Polish political think tank, says such figures are “very conservative”. More likely, he says, reserves could be closer to 10 trillion cm.

Poland imports around 70% of its natural gas from Russia through the Yamal pipeline. Developing an indigenous gas industry could cut Poland’s reliance on Russian gas supplies and enhance its energy security.

The country is building an LNG terminal that will provide new gas-import and storage capacity. The facility, which should be on line in 2014, will have a “dramatic” impact on Poland’s gas sector says the government.

Eni already has US shale-gas operations in Texas, having entered a joint venture in May 2009 with Quicksilver Resources. It paid $280m for a 27.5% stake in Barnett Shale acreage. The Italian firm says it will use knowledge gained in the US to develop the resource in Poland. The deal is part of the company’s strategy of expanding its unconventional-resources acreage.

Lane Energy has already drilled two wells in Poland’s Baltic basin and is planning another in the second half of 2011. Kamlesh Parmar, Lane’s country manager in Poland, says the Baltic basin is an “attractive” place to invest. Lane expects the results of its pilot shale gas wells in 2011.


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