Natural gas in general and shale gas in particular

Natural gas is a key source of energy in Poland. Our conventional gas resources are insufficient to satisfy domestic demand. Like other countries, Poland aims to achieve self-sufficiency in terms of oil and gas production. To this end, we are tracking new unconventional sources of oil gas that occur deep below the ground in a belt running across north, central and southeast Poland.

Shale gas production requires application of advanced technologies (see Technologies page) and a thorough knowledge of the gas and of the rocks it is accumulated in. It is geologists' task to investigate and provide as much as possible complete knowledge on properties and prospectiveness of these fine-grained sedimentary rocks.

Black shales – the source rock of natural gas – formed in ancient seas of Ordovician and Silurian (485–420 million years ago). Argillaceous-mudstone sediments with an admixture of organic matter were deposited at the sea bottom. With time the sediments, covered by successive layers and progressively buried in the Earth crust, were transformed into shale rocks. It is geologist's first task to determine the conditions of shale rock formation and the range of their occurrence (read more on this subject in Age of shales and The environment of shale formation).

Shale rocks are a mixture of several components: minerals, fossils, organic matter and pore space between them. From the perspective of oil and gas exploration, the content of good quality orgcanic matter is a precondition for the formation of hydrocarbons. Nonetheless, details of mineral composition and of the voids – pores in the shale rock are essential for an in-depth estimation of the reserves and potential for commercial production (read more in Shale characterization).

Based on all collected data, geologist are capable to estimate gas resources in Poland and across the world as well as specify areas with high probability of shale gas occurrence (read more in Shale gas resources - Poland, Shale gas resources - Europe and Shale gas resources – USA).

 author: Hubert Kiersnowski

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