Shale gas – the need for a coordinated policy

| Production & Resources |

The UK is stepping up the pace of the search of new shale gas deposits. The state authorities are becoming more and more actively involved in the support of the shale investments. The British example may soon show whether subsidizing the commercial excavation of shale gas is profitable, and whether state aid helps to achieve independence from energy resources imported from overseas.

The British phenomenon

Over 60 shale gas test boreholes had been made in Poland by October 2014. Only one project may be called a success, though. At the same time, a comprehensive system of tax reliefs, subsidies, and support for the future specialists of the fuel and energy sector was created in Great Britain. It is rumored that the UK is likely to commence the excavation of shale gas before Poland does. This could be possible thanks to coordinated policy of assistance for the energy sector enterprises which have chosen to invest in the search of shale gas deposits.

Obstacles which may be overcome

This does not mean that the excavation of gas runs absolutely smoothly in the Isles. The obstacles on the way to the commercial use of the deposits include low CO2 emission quotas, the protests of the environmental organizations, and the energy policy of the European Union. However, armed with a far-sighted and coordinated policy, the authorities in London may face such challenges in an effective way.

In the lead, not without problems

In Poland the search of shale gas deposits started 7 years ago. However, we have yet to hear of any major successes which aim at commercial excavation of the resource. The experts believe that excavation on an industrial scale could start in Poland as late as in 10 years’ time.

On the other hand, the pace of the process is considerable, if we compare Polish achievements to those of other European countries. Things could be better, though. The number of permits granted is falling, while the oil companies from the West are gradually withdrawing from the Polish market. Administrative and logistical difficulties are not offset by the size of the Polish shale gas deposits, making this investment unprofitable for many companies.

Not making things more difficult is the best form of help

Creating true support mechanisms for the companies which look for shale gas involves much more than removing the administrative and legal barriers. The British example proves that a comprehensive energy policy is needed, including coordinated and well thought-over actions of the national government. Our energy security may depend on those activities in the next few years’ time.