Exxon Mobil Corp. said Monday it has dropped further shale exploration in Poland after two wells failed to yield commercial quantities of natural gas, a hit for the country’s efforts to reduce its dependence on imports from Russia.
“We have completed exploration operations in Poland,” said company spokesman Patrick McGinn. “There have been no demonstrated sustained commercial hydrocarbon flow rates in our two wells in the Lublin and Podlasie basins.”
Oil majors such as Exxon, ConocoPhillips and Marathon Oil Corp. flocked to Poland in recent years after the country put in place incentives designed to lure international oil companies seeking to replicate there the shale boom that revolutionized North American natural-gas markets in the last decade.
The bid by Poland, Germany and other European countries to produce more natural gas domestically was part of an effort to reduce their dependence on Russia’s vast natural-gas resources.
But Exxon’s exit is likely to raise questions about the viability of the effort, at least in Poland. Exxon, which acquired rights to explore for shale in Poland in late 2008, announced early last year that it was looking for buyers for stakes in four shale gas concessions there.
Analysts have said that Poland and other Eastern European countries faced a big challenge for developing unconventional energy resources, owing to a lack of infrastructure and manpower. Unlike the U.S. and Canada, Poland doesn’t have a well-developed pipeline system to move gas from the fields it is produced to where it is consumed, nor the strong drilling services industry needed to tap shale reservoirs.