"But there are also many people who see it as a chance for the region, a stimulus, new workplaces and additional income for local firms," she said.

Standing in his vegetable garden, some 300 meters (1,000 feet) from the rig, Piotr Puacz, a jobless electrician, had no complaints.

"This is the only alternative to coal and oil, running short and rising in prices," he said. "My dogs and passing cars are more noisy," he said.

In a few recent cases, Moscow has turned off the taps in price disputes with Ukraine, while this past winter it cut exports amid a bitter cold spell across Russia and much of Europe. Many Poles are deeply resentful of their dependence on Russia, 23 years after rejecting Moscow-backed communist rule.

Puacz hopes that if sufficient gas is found, the exploratory rig will be taken down and the well will be connected to Poland's network, helping to satisfy demand.

"We should not be buying (gas) somewhere abroad, where others are dictating the terms and the prices," Puacz said. "We should have our own reserves."

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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