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Shale, shale

Published on February 29, 2012 by: in: Economy

It is tempting to envision Poland as a shale gas Eldorado. If the prognoses about the amount and accessibility of shale gas prove to be accurate, it is great news, and a promise of the enormous profits, or even a hope for our country to change its position on a geopolitical chart of Europe. Becoming independent of  Russian gas deliveries is a valid dream of many Polish strategists since 1989. But is Minister Mikołaj Budzanowski dealing with the challenge the right way?

photo: Stuart Caie

photo: Stuart Caie

The vision of „shale Poland” is a beautiful one, and it appeals to me personally. The problem is that this is a typically political vision. Unfortunately very often stunning political visions prove to be economically ineffective. That is why we have replaced socialistic economy with capitalistic economy, in which it is no longer the politician, who makes the call about the key economic processes, but the income-oriented and economically efficient business owners.

Unfortunately it does not apply to all industry branches. Polish energy sector, potentially interested in shale gas excavation remains state owned. To what effect? Driven by political agenda the  government and the minister ‘motivates’- the term being an understatement- state owned companies to invest heavily in shale gas exploration and excavation arrangements. According to last issues of Newsweek and Polityka this motivation boils down to an ultimatum given by Minister Budzanowski – shale gas or the chair. Soon, we may pay the price for delays in privatization. Experience in the state management of economic processes shows that a great opportunity can turn out to be huge economic failure, the moment the chairmen fearing for their jobs, are forced to execute the beautiful political vision, without calculating profits against losses.

To make myself clear, I do think that shale gas is potentially a great opportunity for  Poland. It should be used wisely, though. Instead of forcing state owned companies into investing, a transparent investment law should be enacted, potential royalties income should be secured, private shale gas investments should be made easier. It should be companies, not Prime Minister Tusk, making the rational, based on an economic calculation, decision about when, where and what to invest in. Otherwise, our big, Polish opportunity may be wasted after two or three epic economic failures of state imposed shale gas investments.

Translation: Agnieszka Ścieszka

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About Błażej Lenkowski

Graduate of International Relations at The Faculty of International and Political Science Studies of the University of Lodz; president of Industrial Foundation the publisher of Liberte!; entrepreneur.

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