Thursday, November 29, 2012

Study: Shale Gas in the Czech Republic and Poland - Regulation, Infrastructure and Perspectives of Cooperation

The rise of shale gas is probably the most important event of the world energy industry in the last decade. The story of how only within the course of several of years it changed the potentially largest import market in the world to nearly exporting producer is already notorious. A lot has been written on the implications which this originally purely domestic American phenomenon had on the global markets with natural gas, as well as with other energy commodities, and more broadly about its effects in the field of energy and climate policies set by a vast number of countries which take part in these markets. Attention is currently devoted to the matter whether it will be possible to develop the extraction of unconventional gas resources in other areas of the world as well. Europe has ideal conditions in this sense – the growing market, developed infrastructure, nearly liberalized market and the willingness to pay high prices. However, even if the geological conditions prove favourable, the development of shale gas in Europe is far from being granted. NIMBY issues, controversial environmental impact of the extraction process at the peak of its development, a number of national markets being tied by long-term contracts and/or by the protectionist tendencies, and a strong lobby of the competing branches of the energy industry or within the gas sector itself present a considerable challenge for shale gas.

The International Institute of Political Science (IIPS) has recently released a new study named  "Shale Gas in Poland and the Czech Republic: Regulation, Infrastructure and Perspectives of Cooperation". This study focuses on the current development of the events associated with shale gas in the Czech Republic and Poland with regard to their possible mutual cooperation. The foundation of the research consists of the two case studies on regulatory frameworks in these countries. Given the fact that both countries are at different stages of the shale gas developing process, further attention is paid to country-specific aspects, which form the core of the current internal national debate. The reference to the regulation and internal affairs at the level of national states is then supplemented by the analysis of the current discussion on shale gas regulation at the level of the European Union.

The study was conducted within cooperation between the Energy Security Program at the Faculty of Social Studies, Masaryk University, and Warsaw-based university Collegium Civitas. The study was supported by the Czech-Polish Forum.

This study focuses on the current development of the events associated with shale gas in the Czech Republic and Poland with regard to their possible mutual cooperation. The foundation of the research consists of the two case studies on regulatory frameworks in these countries. Given the fact that both countries are at different stages of the shale gas developing process, further attention is paid to countryspecific aspects, which form the core of the current internal national debate. In the Czech Republic, the discussion is led over a two-year moratorium on exploration, which the Ministry of the Environment has proposed most likely under the influence of a strongly polarized debate over shale gas and public opposition to hydraulic fracturing. In Poland, the debate primarily addresses the burden of taxation, infrastructure requirements and, to some extent, the physical security. The reference to the regulation and internal affairs at the level of national states is then supplemented by the analysis of the current discussion on shale gas regulation at the level of the European Union. Because of the highly competitive nature of the energy industry, researchers studying it face a series of problems. Many state bureaus and private companies are unwilling to share precise data, making it difficult to identify the long-term strategies of individual energy players. Furthermore, available data is not often completely conclusive or credible, whether due to its providers' limited reliability or because accurate data is missing. 

For that reason, we paid special attention to verifying all information by checking it against several sources. However, in some cases even very reliable and respected sources diverged considerably. In cases where data could not be fully verified, we considered the information to be unverified. We used dozens of open resources, including frequent reference of IEA materials, as well as interviews, discussions, and fieldwork.

Data collection took place in the Czech Republic, Poland, and Brussels, from January
2012 to October 2012.

The study is available here.

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1 comment:

  1. Though this is a promising breakthrough, government should also take a look at this closely and compare as to how petroleum were first discovered. Government authorities in charge of regulating this particular gas should take into account environmental factors and this gas' sustainability.

    William Robinson

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