Poland says law on shale gas to be ready by year end

Reuters

* Draft shale gas law to be ready within weeks- minister

* Government to discuss law before end-Dec

* Shale gas tax law to be in a separate draft later on

WARSAW, Nov 26 (Reuters) - Poland's environment ministrywill prepare a draft law to regulate the exploration andextraction of shale gas and send it to the government forapproval before the end of the year, its new environmentminister said.

Maciej Grabowski added that speeding up the extraction ofshale gas was one of his priorities, and passing the bill wouldmake investing in shale easier.

"I believe that one can achieve environmental goals by tyingthem to economic goals in a way more friendly for investors,"Grabowski told newspaper Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.

"We would like the law facilitating investment in shale tobe passed as soon as possible to reduce the potential risk forinvestors," he said.

However, Grabowski added that the law on shale gas taxeswould be prepared by the finance ministry in a separate billlater on.

Poland had counted on an expected abundance of shale gas toboost growth and reduce its reliance on Russian oil and gas.

But investors, already jolted by the government'sconservative revision of shale reserves estimates, have grownconcerned about its protracted work on a tax and regulationregime announced in October last year.

ExxonMobil has already decided to abandon its Polishplans, although other global players such as Chevron andConocoPhilips remain determined to extractunconventional gas in Poland.

Grabowski said that Poland needed to drill 3 to 4 times moreexploration wells to know if commercial extraction of shale gasis viable.

"200 to 250 wells will allow us to find out if commercialextraction is realistic," he said.

The new minister, who is to be formally sworn in later onWednesday, added that Poland was ready to form an alliancewithin the European Union, possibly with the United Kingdom, todefend its right to explore and extract shale gas against anypossible plans of the EU parliament.

"I know what is happening in Brussels, some concern iswarranted," Grabowski said. "If there is need we will act in anunambiguous way on many front lines and create coalitions toback our position."

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