Poland's technically recoverable shale gas resources are much lower than projections made last year by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), according to a report issued Wednesday.

According to Poland's Ministry of the Environment, shale plays in the country contain 346-768 billion cubic meters (Bcm), or 12.2-27.1 Tcf, of technically recoverable shale gas resources.

That's a fraction -- between 6.5% and 14.5% -- of the 5.3 trillion cubic meters, or 187 Tcf, the EIA reported in its "World Shale Gas Resources: An Initial Assessment of 14 Regions Outside the United States," which was published last April (see Shale Daily, April 7, 2011).

Despite the disparity, the ministry attempted to put a positive spin on the news.

"This amount is up to five-and-a-half times that of conventional deposits, which is approximately 145 Bcm," the ministry said in a translated statement. "In the current annual demand for natural gas in Poland (about 14.5 Bcm) this is sufficient to meet the needs of the Polish market for natural gas for almost 65 years.

"Our experts stress that these figures concern only shale gas, not tight gas, in the marine areas north of Slupsk and the area surrounding Hrubieszowa and Lublin. These estimates will grow once test wells are drilled in Wielkopolska in Lower Silesia."

The ministry said geologists also believe shale formations in Poland contain a maximum of 535 million metric tons of oil, but it was more likely that 215-268 million metric tons were recoverable. "That's still 10-and-a-half times greater than what we have documented so far from conventional deposits, which is about 26 million metric tons," the ministry said.

"There is much natural gas in Poland, and we should make an investment into its search," said Piotr Wozniak, the nation's chief geologist and undersecretary of State for the Ministry of the Environment. "As we indicated in our energy policy, we estimate that our large shale gas reserve will cover the total demand for natural gas in Poland by 2030.

"Among the European countries, Poland is the leader and most advanced country in terms of exploration and monitoring the environmental impacts from shale gas development."

In the second half of April the ministry plans to present draft legislation for new taxes on hydrocarbon extraction and also plans to call for accelerating exploration by drilling more test wells.

The ministry said scientists plan to submit reports on the size of the country's shale deposits every two years. The EIA, the U.S. Geological Survey and Poland's National Geological Institute have analyzed Poland's data from 1950-1990 on technically recoverable oil and natural gas resources from shale.

Earlier this month Poland's treasury minister predicted the county would begin commercial shale gas production in 2014, at a rate of up to 1 Bcm (35.3 Bcf) per year (see Shale Daily, March 20).

Several North American firms have launched operations in Poland, including Chevron Corp., ExxonMobil Corp. and Talisman Energy Inc. (see Shale Daily, March 14; Feb.1; Nov. 7, 2011).

The EIA has labeled Poland as a country with significant shale gas resources (see Shale Daily, April 7, 2011). The country ranks 11th among countries with technically recoverable shale gas reserves, according to EIA data.