Not so long ago it appeared that the shale
boom that was taking place in the U.S. would spread to the rest
of the world, but some recent revelations have shown that America
must have been playing its lucky numbers in regards to the
unconventional hydrocarbon resource.
It was only last April when the
U.S. Energy Information Administration
estimated that Poland contained 5.8 trillion cubic feet of
reserves and 187 trillion cubic of technically recoverable shale
gas resources. While this is a far cry from the 272.5 trillion
cubic feet of reserves and the 862 trillion cubic feet of
resources in the U.S., it was still a significant figure that had
many people excited about the prospect of fracking - the
technique commonly used to extract shale gas - in the
However, all those hopes may have been for naught as Poland's
first official report into its shale gas reserves revealed that
it may only contain about one-tenth of the levels estimated by
the EIA, according to
In addition to the drastic lowering of estimated reserves,
exploration companies in Poland have encountered a number of
additional problems, reports
and a lack of proper equipment in the country have stymied
explorers, as well as the fact that it costs three times as much
to drill a well in Poland than it does in the U.S.
"The growth of shale in Poland will be slower than in the U.S.
because it would need to build the infrastructure the U.S.
already had available," said Laura Loppacher, a London-based
and gas analyst with Jefferies International Ltd. "We know the
gas in place is there, but it's unclear if it can be extracted at
a rate that's commercial."
Reuters reports that the discouraging shale gas news has
pushed Poland to further pursue nuclear energy, as many countries
around the world move away from the power due to the Fukushima
Daiichi disaster last year in Japan.
Elsewhere in Europe, the problems encountered by oil and gas
companies aren't necessarily the same as they are in Poland but
revolve more around public opinion. France and Bulgaria have both
While fracking may not be going away in the U.S. it appears
that Europe may not be the hotbed of unconventional gas it was
once thought to be.