MILAN, Italy, Dec. 13 (UPI) -- Italian energy company Eni said it acquired nearly 760 square miles of land in Poland that it plans to exploit for natural gas locked in shale formations.
Eni said it made its entrance into the European unconventional gas market through the acreage acquisition. Operations at six wells are planned for next year, the company said.
"Poland, which is currently importing almost 70 percent of its gas requirements, represents the ideal environment for Eni to start its operations in this emerging play which is of great interest to the oil and gas industry as a whole," the company said in a statement.
Shale gas is controversial for environmental groups who worry about the potential health effects associated with the extraction method known as fracking. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency called on U.S. companies to disclose the chemicals they use to crack open shale to ally some of the environmental concerns.
The Eni acreage in northeast Poland came through the acquisition from Minsk Energy Resources.
Poland has plans to bring a 300-mile natural gas pipeline to Lithuania on stream by 2015 to carry around 175 billion cubic feet each year between both Baltic nations.