Actual and Future Scenarios of Shale Gas in Europe CEE Shale Gas & Oil Summit 2015 Report

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Barbara Pach, Karolina Zahuta

    From 9th-10th March our attention was attracted by the Eastern Europe Shale Gas&Oil Summit 2015 which was held in Radisson Blu Hotel in Warsaw. This event gathered many international authorities from the O&G industry; technical experts, professionals and students from Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, UK, Ukraine and USA. The two-day conference, with four sessions each day, paid attention to the themes such as previous experiences and future predictions for shale gas in Europe. What we found the most interesting were the newest methods of extracting gas from shale with the use of CO2, legislation of exploring shale gas in several countries, the public opinion on shale gas and many others.

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     These highly interesting presentations and discussions allowed us to prepare an overview of the current situation and the future of shale gas exploration in Europe. Marek Madeja, Poland Country Manager for Cuadrilla reminded the audience that it took about 18 years to start commercial shale gas production in the USA while in Poland it is still a fresh issue. That’s why there’s no comparison between the US and the current situation in Europe which still needs time to develop. Akshay Pasrija from United Oilfield Services mentioned another reason why we shouldn’t compare the two continents – the difference in geology which means that technology used in the USA cannot be implemented in Europe. Furthermore, there’s a big difference in law – in the USA it’s in a landowner’s business to explore potential hydrocarbons while in the European Union, the resources belong to the state. Moreover the EU regulations and recommendations are restrictive.

    Undoubtedly, the attitude of government matters too. It seems that there’s a need for government investment in basic science and research (notice that the USA has spent a lot of money before achieving the success in production).  “Behind a “yes” decision there is a risk”, the experts said, that’s why important decisions are made with concern, postponed or avoided by executives. Summarizing the discussion, which took place in the third session of the second day of the conference, when it comes to the situation in Poland, it looks like the biggest oil & gas companies aren’t so convinced to step into the Polish market, because no one will risk losing money when it could take a long time to develop and stabilize the current situation. For entrepreneurs it’s safer to go home rather than to invest money in Poland right now. Moreover, Paweł Poprawa, expert in unconventional gas and oil,highlighted the importance of the much-needed good PR of shale gas exploration. Local communities should  be informed and aware of the real dangers of  shale gas exploration and extraction. An example for this is the situation in UK, where drilling was blocked many times by protests of citizens.

    What more should be changed? According to lawyer Maciej Jóźwiak, we need a clear, transparent law.  The process of giving licenses should be sped up and the problem with taxation should be solved looking at the experiences of other countries that produce hydrocarbons from unconventional reservoirs. In Mr Poprawa’s opinion firstly we have to frack more, then extract and invest more money in research. Patience and changed approach may also play a big role in improving the situation.

Making a general conclusion, the market is unpredictable and many factors may influence the situation of shale gas in Europe. It can change very quickly and attract investors again, even within the next decade.

     To sum up, as students, this conference gave us a view on current and future shale gas and oil exploration. Hearing from experienced people about various interesting topics was very enlightening. We can see a chance for developing the current market situation, we just have to create the possibility for things to go in the right direction and be patient. As a YoungPetro delegation we are looking forward to more such fantastic events we are always willing to participate in. Special thanks to Charles Maxwell, the organizer of CEE Shale Gas&Oil Summit.

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