Poland May Drop Plan for State-Run Shale Gas Exploration Fund

Poland may drop a plan to create a state-run fund to participate in shale gas exploration ventures to alleviate objections from investors and speed drilling.

The proposed fund, called NOKE, is not indispensable, Environment Minister Maciej Grabowski said yesterday in an interview in Warsaw. The prosed fund would become a shareholder in domestic shale gas licenses to be sold under new regulations.

“NOKE is a tool to reach a goal,” Grabowski said. “If we can find a formula that will protect the interests of the State Treasury and will be safe for the environment, I’m open to several options.”

Poland has granted about 100 licenses to foreign and domestic drillers including Chevron Corp. (CVX) to tap unconventional gas resources, ranked by the U.S. Energy Information Administration in 2011 as Europe’s biggest, as it seeks to cut its dependence on supplies from Russia. Grabowski, appointed on Nov. 27, has said his priority is to speed up exploration and declared that new laws guiding the industry will take final shape after consultations with investors.

The number of wells completed this year fell to 12 from 24 last year, according to ministry data published Dec. 2., as foreign drillers including Marathon Oil Corp. and Talisman Energy Inc. (TLM) withdrew from the nation.

Piotr Wozniak, the deputy environment minister who was in charge of preparing draft shale regulations and oversaw licensing procedures, was fired today and replaced by Slawomir Brodzinski, the ministry said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Marek Strzelecki in Warsaw at mstrzelecki1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Lars Paulsson at lpaulsson@bloomberg.net

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