Not that Poyry or Ofgem have any incentive, but it was notable that even though the Ofgem seminar last week was happy to present evidence saying shale would have minimal influence on Europe based on an eight month old report, during a discussion of further developments Poyry thought that the two day old Exxon shale gas "failure" was so compelling that they wanted to share the good news with the audience at once.

Further news from Poland today, that shows that plenty of people in Poland are alive, well, drilling and thriving. Marathon announced eight wells earlier this week and ExxonMobil confirmed they still are going ahead with 6 more. And:

John Buggenhagen, the Warsaw-based exploration director for San Leon energy, said that while other former Soviet-bloc nations such as the Czech Republic, Hungary and Ukraine are exploring similar developments, it is Poland that offers the most promise.

"Look at the history of Poland," Buggenhagen told a recent shale gas conference in Warsaw. "We are only 23 years from the fall of communism and we are in an energy rush with a country that has been reliant on coal and on supplies from the east."

At Chevron's site outside Lesniowice, head of drilling Tim Nowak and his crew are doing all they can to make that happen. The site is a hive of activity with trucks owned by Halliburton parked in the lot, and drill parts and pipe casings strewn across the ground. The low rumble of the drill drones on in the background.

Nowak acknowledges the challenges of creating an industry from the ground up. But as he guides a tour around the first of Chevron's five exploratory wells in Poland, he remains positive. "Right now Poland is an exciting place to be," he said.

But what about the Poyry/Ofgem view of shale gas so problematic and environmentally constrained that it will be too expensive?  Poyry and Ofgem have strong supporters of that view within government. The Russian government:

"Oh, we're so thrilled that they are starting to produce shale gas!" Sergei Komlev, head of contract structuring at Russia's state-controlled Gazprom told Reuters last week. "Look, we do not believe in this myth of shale gas, that it is cheap gas. It is not true."

A Poland awash in gas could mean dwindling revenues and further loss of influence in a region Moscow once controlled with an iron fist. Are Russian officials too dismissive of the threat?

Moscow, some diplomats and oil analysts say, believes that Poland's weak infrastructure, among other problems, will slow the country's ability to exploit its gas.

"They are aware of the dangers," one Western diplomat said. "But they really don't believe shale will happen in Europe."

That could be why Gazprom felt confident enough to cut supply to Europe during the recent cold snap.

Back in the old days, the US government was convinced parts of the UK government were riddled with secret Soviet sympathizers. In the new days, Russian influence is a bit more blatant.

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  • striebs

    Nick ,<br /><br />Seems "Ofgem" is a bit of a misnoma ; "Office of Gas and Electricity Markets" .<br /><br />By the sounds of it markets are the last thing they want threatening the cartels and monopolies .<br /><br />Why won't UK officials and officers take a leaf out of their Polish counterparts books and put British Citizen's interests first ?

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