Poland cuts estimate for shale gas exploration wells
* 80 shale wells to have been drilled by late 2014
* Initial forecast was for 100 wells
* First commercial shale gas production still expected this year
* But large-scale production still years off
By Anna Koper
WARSAW, July 31 (Reuters) - Poland is seeing less exploratory drilling for shale gas than expected, environment minister Maciej Grabowski told Reuters, dealing a setback to the country's efforts to find a cheap alternative to the natural gas it imports from Russia.
Grabowski said he expected just over 80 exploratory wells would be drilled this year, down from the 100 he projected in a newspaper interview in June.
However, he remained confidence that the first commercial production of Polish shale gas would start this year.
"By the end of June there had been 64 exploratory shale gas wells drilled in Poland. A further 20 are planned (for this year)," Grabowski said in an interview. Continued...