Discrimination of the shale gas?

Wiesława Lewandowska talks to the euro-deputy Konrad Szymański

WIESŁAWA LEWANDOWSKA: - In the discussion about the improvement of energy security of Poland and besides the hopes connected with the discovery of the shale gas, there are serious concerns that the union regulations - administrative and environmental ones - may obstruct investments connected with the output of this gas. Can we really expect it?

KONRAD SZYMAŃSKI: - At present the obliging EU directives and regulations concerning administrative requirements, such as the environmental investigation of the influence or regulations of area protection NATURE 2000, may prolong the process of giving necessary permits. The instruments of the policy of environment protection, like water directive, or habitat directive or REACH may raise costs of such investments. All this may deprive the shale gas of competitiveness on the market and in order to extract this gas at all, it must be cheaper than the previous gas.

- Can we suspect, that in order to block the Polish shale gas, the secondary probability will be created, especially connected with the environment protection?

- Today's norms of the environment protection should not be a problem. Investors knew about them before taking up the activity in Poland. However, a problem may be the useless implementation of these norms and what is worse - creating new norms on the political order, in order to make it impossible for industrial output of the shale gas in Poland or Bulgaria.

- What 'counter-actions' can we expect in the nearest time?

- The European Parliament will accept two reports in this matter in the first half of the year 2012. The postulates of new legal norms may appear there. There will surely be an emphasis to introduce regulations concerning the so-called quality of fuels, including the emission of carbon dioxide or methane. The acceptance of useless assumptions concerning the emission of the gas could strike the gas from unconventional sources.

- May it turn out suddenly that the output of the shale gas in Poland endangers the environment more than all other energy sources?

- There are sometimes attempts to create such a negative picture of gas. In the contrary to the facts. Gas is safer than the nuclear energy and cheaper. It is cleaner than coal by half. Finally, it is cheaper than renewable energy whose career is connected only with the political pressure on its implementing in the contrary to the economic estimation. The game about the shale gas is a reflection of this game of interests among particular sector of power engineering industry.

- Who in Europe is the worst enemy of the shale gas, also the Polish gas?

- Besides the mentioned competition on the energetic market, this new gas is inconvenient, first of all, for those, whose position is connected with maintaining monopoly. In the Central Europe such policy is conducted by Russian Gasprom which often appears in the role of a political instrument of Kremlin. It is a key problem. This environmental anxiety is mainly spread because of these two basic aspects.

- Can we count on any European allies in this fight for the shale gas?

- Our ally is this part of industry which got engaged in investments and, at the same time, and the countries of their origin. Great Britain and Holland are declared allies today of using these resources. A large part of countries is indifferent and in our activities we should try to gain their trustfulness.

- In what way?

- We should present facts on the environmental guarantees which we have in the Polish and European law and the strategic character of the new gas. We have a chance for the safety of supplies, more competitive market, lower prices, more competitive economy and cleaner sky. It is a lot.

- A big enemy of the 'Polish shale' is - for some reasons - Russia. How can it be an obstacle?

- Russia is doing everything to maintain its actual and legal monopoly for the supplies of gas to the countries of the Central Europe. It lies in its political and economic interest. However, its possibilities are not powerful. Ecological care of the chairman of Gasprom - a company which does not reveal data concerning the emission of its petroleum leads devastating economy in Siberia and operates the infrastructure from which hundred thousands third metres cubical of gas evaporate - should raise laughter.

- But it does not raise laughter and is popular among, for example, the Germans. Can we expect from the Germans any obstacles in the future connected with for example the distribution of the gas?

- The problem may appear if in Berlin the authority is gained by the red-green coalition - SPD -Greens. The ideological ecology of the Greens and a strong concretion with Gasprom on the side of SPD could bring serious problems. Germany does not have any influence on the distribution of gas in Poland but it want to be a broker of the Russian gas in our part of Europe and in fact it may be not interested in appearing a new raw material. On the other hand - the usage of gas will be increasing. So we will find a place for a new raw material.

- What actions should Poland take now to lead into the output and promotion of our wealth?

- We must show that our law, according to any EU norms is adjusted to these operations. We should show not only in Europe, but also to local communities that we want these investments to be realized with respect to the environment protection and local interests. We must also protect the interests of the State Treasury. We must build coalition of the countries in EU which will share our pragmatic attitude to the unconventional gas. Finally, we must be able to block, also with using veto, every legislative initiative whose aim will be the discrimination of gas from unconventional deposits. It is our wealth.


"Niedziela" 01/2012

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: redakcja@niedziela.pl