June 2 (Bloomberg) -- Poland’s energy industry is a “sector of opportunity” for U.S. companies that may lead to a spurt of investment, the foreign investment agency said.
“A hot topic that rather dominated the visit of President Obama to Poland was shale gas,” said Iwona Chojnowska-Haponik, director of the agency’s foreign investment department, at a news conference today in Warsaw. “We have great hopes for this, and specifically at present for the extraction of this gas.”
Poland may have as much as 187 trillion cubic feet (5.3 trillion cubic meters) of shale gas reserves, the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates, enough to meet domestic demand for around three centuries. U.S. President Barack Obama said last week during his first trip to Poland that he had had an “extensive discussion” about shale gas and nuclear power with Prime Minister Donald Tusk.
The Polish government is seeking to diversify its energy sources to cut dependence on coal and imported natural gas from Russia. The government has said it wants to build Poland’s first nuclear power plant by 2020. Gas emits about half as much carbon dioxide, blamed for global warming, per megawatt generated as coal, the fuel for about 90 percent of Poland’s power.
“Doubtlessly the fact that Poland intends to build a nuclear power station is attracting investors from around the world,” Chojnowska-Haponik said. “American companies also want to participate in this enormous undertaking.”
Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp. and ConocoPhillips, the three biggest U.S. oil companies, are among those granted 86 licenses to explore for shale gas in Poland.
Poland needs to improve its investment climate to attract more U.S. energy companies, said Michael Sessums, economic counselor at the U.S. embassy in Warsaw.
“There are obstacles to U.S. investors coming to Poland -- the energy price is not as clear as it needs to be for companies to come in and invest in energy efficiency in a big way,” he said at today’s conference. “Companies like clarity.”
--Editors: Willy Morris, Andrea Dudik
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