Bloomberg News

Seven Charged in Polish Shale Gas Probe, Prosecutor Says

January 12, 2012

(Updates with prosecutor comment in third paragraph.)

Jan. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Seven people were charged with corruption during the licensing process for permits to explore Polish shale-gas deposits, Warsaw Deputy Appellate Prosecutor Waldemar Tyl said by phone today.

Three officials from the Environment Ministry, the representatives of three companies seeking licenses and an employee of the Polish Geological Institute, which performs surveys for the government, were detained yesterday.

The prosecutor has asked the court to arrest all charged except the employee of the Polish Geological Institute, the Appellate Prosecutor said today in a statement on its website.

Earlier today, Tyl said that representatives of companies partly owned by Petrolinvest SA were among seven people detained in the probe.

“Our subsidiary, Silurian sp. z o.o., has declared its readiness to cooperate in explaining all matters related to the proceedings,” Bertrand Le Guern, the chief executive officer of Petrolinvest, said in an e-mailed statement.

Petrolinvest has 13 licenses to explore for shale gas in Poland via its subsidiaries.

Poland, which is seeking to reduce its reliance on Russian gas, may hold enough fuel trapped in shale to meet its needs for 300 years, the U.S. Department of Energy said in April. Almost 20 companies, including Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp. Poland’s dominant gas company Polskie Gornictwo Naftowe i Gazownictwo SA and top refiner PKN Orlen SA, have more than 100 licenses to explore for shale gas in Poland.

From Jan. 1, under a new mining law, all licenses to explore and produce hydrocarbons in Poland must be awarded in tenders, according to the Environment Ministry website.

Under previous regulations, shale-gas licenses were granted on a first-come first-served basis provided procedural conditions were met and required paying an administrative fee.

--Editors: Rob Verdonck, Rachel Graham

To contact the reporter on this story: Marek Strzelecki in Warsaw at mstrzelecki1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Voss at sev@bloomberg.net


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