LONDON (ICIS)--The European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic) welcomed the Polish prime minister’s initiative to grant tax breaks for companies exploring shale gas in the country over the next six years, the Council’s director of energy and environment, Peter Botschek, said on Friday.
The proposal by the prime minister, Donald Tusk, still has to go through the two chambers of the Polish parliament and is expected to be passed by mid-2014, according to a spokesperson for Poland’s Ministry of the Environment.
“We welcome policies which help and give stimulus [to shale gas]. A boost in this area is essential to explore energy options, especially with the current situation in Europe regarding energy costs compared to the US,” said Botschek.
Cefic’s director said he hopes shale gas exploration will also be successful in the UK and other countries would follow suit. “You always need pioneers that start first,” he added.
Shale gas has been controversial in Europe after tremors were felt in the UK in 2011 following drillings in the Blackpool area. Despite the controversy, the UK government has kept pushing for further development of the industry.
The controversy resulted in countries like France, where the nuclear industry has a powerful voice, imposing a ban on shale gas explorations.
Poland, on the other hand, has been keen on exploring the possibilities shale gas could provide, making the country less dependent on energy imports from Russia, as PM Donald Tusk has repeatedly stated.
The Polish Ministry of the Environment’s spokesperson said close to 60 drillings have been undertaken in Poland so far and 100 of them would be needed to determine if the shale gas from the country would be worth extracting.
“There is probably enough shale gas on Polish soil to look for it and use it. More than 70% of Poles would like the shale gas industry to grow in the country. Even more interestingly, in the areas where the drilling has taken place the level of support is even higher,” he said.
The Ministry’s spokesperson was referring to two opinion polls conducted in 2013 by opinion institutes CBOS and TNS Polska [see graph]. According to CBOS, in May 2013, on a national scale, 72% of Poles supported shale gas drillings, while just 7% opposed the idea.
TNS Polska specifically polled, in August 2013, inhabitants from areas where drillings have already taken place like in the north of the country, as well as in the Lublin province in the south east. Shale gas drilling was supported in greater numbers in those areas, with 78% in favour and 7% against it.
A spokesperson for PKN Orlen, the Polish oil major which has been keen on shale gas explorations in the country, said the company is analysing the proposal and will comment on it when the bill is passed by Parliament.
Support for shale gas in Poland on a national level and in local areas where drillings have taken place
Source: CBOS and TNS Polska, cited by Poland's Ministry of the Environment