A ray of sunshine appears to be peeking from Poland’s once cloudy shale gas production outlook, as the country is hopeful that it will see first commercial gas flows this year. Poland is believed to contain about 4.4 Tcm (148 Tcf) of technically recoverable shale gas resources, according to the US Energy Information Administration. But successfully getting to these resources has proven to be problematic for some operators, including ExxonMobil, Marathon, and Talisman Energy. ExxonMobil halted its shale gas exploration efforts in Poland in 2012. Marathon bowed out last year after failing to find commercial levels of hydrocarbons. And in May 2013 Talisman announced it was transferring its interests to San Leon Energy. But the situation is looking brighter. Dennis McKee, founder and CEO of Poland-based United Oilfield Services, said improved techniques and regulations will make way for about 30 reservoirs to be drilled this year, according to a Bloomberg report. This is up from 14. The company has been providing hydraulic fracturing services to operators exploring for shale resources in Poland. These included San Leon Energy, PKN Orlen SA, and 3Legs Resources and its partner ConocoPhillips. United Oilfield Services anticipates shale gas production in Poland starting in 2015. “It will be about a seven- to 10-month lag from commercial discovery before things will be happening,” McKee said in the article. More signs of progress came today when 3 Legs Resources delivered information concerning the Lublewo LEP-1 and Strzeszewo LE-1 vertical wells. Flow testing of the Sasino formation continued with the Strzeszewo LE-1 vertical well following a single-stage frac using a nitrogen lift in December. The company reported that gas flow to surface from the target zone was achieved for the duration of the test. In addition, preliminary data from the Lublewo LEP-1 vertical well indicate the “Sasino shale formation in the area of the well has a similar thickness to that seen in the Strzeszewo LE-1 vertical well, as expected.” CEO Kamlesh Parmar said, “Drilling of the Lublewo LEP-1 well is an important first step in this program, and the extensive core and log data we have acquired will be invaluable for fine-tuning the strategy for our long lateral well planned for later this year.” It will take success stories to encourage investors to return to Poland. Trevor Sikorski, head of natural gas, coal, and carbon at Energy Aspects Ltd., pointed out in the Bloomberg article that commercial flows may do just that. “We expect Poland to be the top shale producer in the European Union over time, and since there are still plenty of hurdles to overcome and the industry is still in its infancy, there does need to be some success stories to get investors interested again,” Sikorski said. As operators push forward with drilling plans, the Polish government continues working on new shale gas regulations. Participants of recent talks concerning the reform have aired concerns about the principles of granting concessions, “including the establishment of a single concession for exploration, appraisal, and production works and the possibility to exempt certain exploration works (e.g. geophysical works) from the requirement to obtain a concession. They also discussed the option to introduce an open door procedure when concessions are granted at the request of companies, while at the same time preserving an alternative tender mode when concessions are granted ex officio,” according to a statement by the country’s Ministry of the Environment. The shale gas regulations are expected to be released soon. Contact the author, Velda Addison, at vaddison@hartenergy.com.