Poland’s eagerly-awaited estimate of its shale gas reserves, released on Wednesday, turned out not to be one fifth of the 5.3tn cubic meters originally hoped for but rather less: something between 346bn and 768bn cubic meters, according to the government’s geological institute.

But Poles shouldn’t be despondent. The estimate could yet be revised upwards to as much as 1.9tn cubic meters. And even the lower estimate would give Poland gas self-sufficiency for seven decades, the institute said.

As the Associated Press reported on Wednesday:

the figures are a disappointment for a country that had been hoping that its shale gas assets would last centuries and help it break its dependence on Russian gas imports.

Well, living happily ever after does often sound like wishful thinking. And, acccording to the AP report, the estimate is based on data collected more than 20 years ago from 39 test wells. More wells have been sunk more recently and when the results of those tests are analysed, the outlook may well look rosier.

But Wednesday’s low numbers look likely to have one (presumably) unintended consequence: the case for building two government-backed nuclear plants will have got stronger.

Related reading:
Poland’s shale gas divided by 5? beyondbrics
Chevron puts damper on shale gas hopes, FT
Shale could help break Russia’s grip on gas, FT
Poland hopes to tap big reserves of shale gas, FT

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