|Poland to speed shale gas if Gazprom keeps price up|
|October 26, 2011|
WARSAW, Oct 26 (Reuters) - Poland will get an additional incentive to push forward with shale gas projects if Russia's Gazprom refuses to lower multi-year gas prices, Deputy Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak said on Wednesday.
Polish gas monopoly PGNiG said it would seek an agreement with Gazprom by end-October on a price cut under their long-term deal and, if unsuccessful, would then turn to an arbitrage court.
"Some activity on the government level would certainly do no harm to signal our expectations," Pawlak, who also serves as the energy minister, told Reuters.
Poland imports some two-thirds of its annual gas consumption of 14 billion cubic metres from Russia, and diversification of supplies has for long been high on Warsaw's agenda, with its focus lately turning to potential shale gas exploration.
"Our agreement runs until 2022, and by then with relatively good technical capabilities, there will be a chance to match demand with shale gas supply, and this is a new element in the discussion. We can either buy cheaper conventional gas or move quicker on shale gas extraction," Pawlak said.
Poland hopes to start shale gas production as soon as in 2014 after a study by the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimated it could have some 5.3 trillion cubic metres of recoverable reserves, though that has not been confirmed so far.
The government granted over 100 exploration licences, and three companies recently said they had hit some shale gas deposits.
(Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska, editing by Jane Baird)
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