Days after visiting natural gas operations in the Marcellus Shale, Poland’s treasury minister said commercial shale gas production may begin in his country in 2014.

According to the ministry, Mikolaj Budzanowski and a delegation of Polish officials visited natural gas well pads at various stages of development — including drilling, hydraulic fracturing and producing — on March 10 in order to become more familiar with the technology. The ministry did not identify the locations the delegation visited.

“We ensured that responsible operation can be carried out without negative impact on the environment, and for the benefit of local communities,” Budzanowski said. “Knowledge obtained during the visit gives us a clue in what direction to go when it comes to the investment process and building relationships with people.”

The ministry said the delegation also met with an unidentified landowner who had leased his farmland for natural gas drilling. It said the landowner initially had some concerns about leasing his property, but they were unfounded.

“The traffic has intensified in the area, but on the other hand, [the operator] took care of the quality of roads,” the ministry quoted the landowner as saying. “In addition, many people found work thanks to the [drilling], I could expand my farm with the usage fee.”

Budzanowski began a visit to the United States on March 7 to lure investment to the country and was scheduled to return on March 11. An Associated Press report said he predicted shale gas could be produced commercially by 2014, at a rate of up to 1 billion cubic meters (Bcm) per year, or 35.3 Bcf.

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 U.S. Energy Information Administration (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.