The first commercial shale gas in Poland is expected to be produced on a small scale in early 2015. Shale gas will likely become a major energy source for Poland by 2020, but coal â¿¿ which Poland is rich in â¿¿ will remain the main source for another 50 years while technology efforts will focus on reducing carbon gas emission, Budzanowski said.

Some 35 exploratory shale gas wells have been drilled so far, but the findings are "not always exciting," Poprawa said. More than 100 wells are needed for an assessment of the deposits.

In the United States, production of shale gas has brought down gas prices on the U.S. domestic market to under $100 per 1,000 cubic meters, about a third of what gas costs in most of Europe, where the chief provider is Russia. Moscow charges Poland above the European average thanks to a contract between the two countries that dates back to 1993.

Regarding environmental concerns, Budzanowski said Poland's mining and research institutes should be involved in developing new, environmentally-friendly forms of shale gas extraction that could be also used in other countries.

In France, Germany and Bulgaria, environmental concerns were behind recent decisions to block or suspend exploration for shale gas. But countries like Russia or China are pursuing shale gas programs.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

If you liked this article you might like

What's Behind the Surge in Energy Stocks

Hillary Clinton Says Prosecuting Individuals is Key to Wall Street Reform