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Polish Natural Gas Could Free Europe from Russia's Grip Once and for All

Poland is currently reliant upon natural gas imported from Russia. They shed the iron rule of the Soviet Union only to hand power back to Moscow due to their need for Gazprom’s products. However it has recently been discovered that Poland boasts Europe’s largest deposits of shale gas, an estimated 5.3 trillion cubic metres, which according to the US Energy Information Administration is enough to supply Poland’s energy needs for the next 300 years.

Poland has therefore welcomed US companies such as Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Conoco and Marathon, in the hope that their knowledge of fracking technologies will enable the extraction of the gas. They hope for production to begin in 2014.

Not only will the shale gas give Poland freedom from the tyrannical grip of Gazprom, but it will also reduce Europe’s reliance on Russian energy and therefore Moscow’s power over the continent. Russia currently supplies 25% of Europe’s gas. Daniel Yergin, a Pulitzer-prize winning author and energy historian said of Warsaw, "They're motivated to develop it economically and they're motivated to develop it politically."

The mayor of Lesniowice, Wieslaw Radzieciak, suggested that, "If this thing comes true, if the American technologies deployed here at some point are really able to produce this gas, then this means a winning situation for the whole of Europe really. It would create more competitiveness on the gas market, which is now dominated by Russia, and one side would not be able to force anything unilaterally anymore."

Despite this threat to their power over Europe and the potential for genuine competition in a market they have so long monopolised, Russian officials are not worried, claiming that Poland’s gas will just prove that Russian gas is cheap. They also believe that Poland’s weak infrastructure will prevent much gas from being produced and exported.

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

“Thrilled” really? That sounds like the sort of over exaggeration that people make on the point of a massive panic attack, when they still want everyone to believe that everything is OK.

William Perry, a former U.S. secretary of defense, said after a recent trip to Moscow that, "The last thing they (Moscow) want is anything that upsets their monopoly on gas. I think it's fair to say that they are very concerned about it."

By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com

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  • Fred Banks on February 10 2012 said:
    Right on, Phillip. Makes me wonder if Mr Graebner reads the best site on oil, which is OilPrice.Com.

    I had an exchange of mails with an ignoramus in the Big PX recently, and despite a fine education in a fine school under a fine professor, he was completely unable to understand the difficulty/senselessness of trying to make useful predictions (for gas and oil) with the help of the reserve-production ratio
  • Philip Andrews on February 10 2012 said:
    Given what Kurt Cobb wrote recently:

    End of the Boom: The True State of the Shale Gas Industry

    By Kurt Cobb | Tue, 07 February 2012 23:31 |

    I shouldn't imagine the Russians will be losing much sleep over this...

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