Poland will invest about Zloty 5 billion ($1.57 billion) in shale gas exploration by 2016, the country's treasury minister Wlodzimierz Karpinski said Wednesday.
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"Polish energy security and independence is a government priority," Karpinski told parliament as he outlined the government's energy policy priorities until the end of its term next year, according to a treasury ministry statement.
"It's based on the search for our own raw materials and the maximum use of national resources. We want to take advantage of this opportunity for energy independence, which in Poland may derive from shale gas reserves, and that's why state companies will invest not less than Zloty 5 billion in unconventional exploration to 2016," he added.
State-controlled energy companies PGNiG and PKN Orlen are leading shale gas exploration in Poland, which is the most advanced in Europe. Both domestic and foreign operators have drilled 65 exploration wells since mid-2010.
However, the geology has proved more difficult than originally predicted and none has yet flowed gas at a commercial rate.
Karpinski said the government has drafted a bill to speed up exploration for unconventional hydrocarbons. The draft law would shorten the statutory time limits for the consideration of upstream activities, establish regional leaders as the single decision makers in administrative matters and remove certain levels of bureaucracy.
The bill will be sent to parliament for review and a vote in the coming months.