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Poland: the next gas superpower?

Poland hopes to find large amounts of natural gas that will rival Texas.

If the gas is in fact there, it will have to be found in large enough deposits to make commercial sense.

The legal conditions in Poland are also very different from those in the United States. Environmental rules in the European Union are much tougher than in the United States, and even their opposition to the possible danger to water quality from mining operations is growing.

In the United States, mineral rights usually belong to the owner of the surface property, which encourages property owners to explore for mineral wealth. In Europe, such deposits usually belong to the state, which makes owners much less enthusiastic about pursuing mining operations. 

Also, the very expensive infrastructure needed to extract the gas is missing in Europe. There are more than a thousand gas drilling rigs in the United States, while there are less than a hundred in Europe.

Finally, the technology needed to extract the gas was developed by American companies, and they will have to take the lead in any eventual gas development in Poland, something that is already causing controversy. Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of the conservative opposition Law and Justice party (normally very pro-American), has warned about handing Poland's mineral wealth to foreigners who will make money off it, leaving Poland with nothing.