San Leon Energy, an Irish company associated with financier George Soros and BlackRock Investment and its Canadian oil and gas exploration partner Talisman Energy, announced late last week it had successfully completed its first shale gas exploration well in Pomorskie province in northern Poland.
Drilling to a depth of 11,800 feet through middle and lower Silurian, Ordovician and Upper Cambrian shales, San Leon officials said they encountered "continuous gas shows" consisting of methane with a small percentage of ethane, propane, butane and pentane at its Lewino 1G-2 well in the Gdansk W Concession.
The find joins a pair of vertical wells and a horizontal well drilled in Poland by ConocoPhillips and 3Legs, while another partnership made up of BNK Petroleum, RAG and Sorgenia has also drilled two vertical wells, the energy industry trade journal Upstream Online reported.
"The successful drilling and data gathering at the Lewino 1G-2 well is a significant milestone for San Leon and our partnership with Talisman Energy," San Leon Chairman Oisin Fanning said.
"Our systematic approach over the last three years of acquiring high potential acreage in Poland, finding an experienced partner in Talisman and acquiring a significant 2-D seismic database has lead to our first successful well in the Baltic Basin."
The next step, he said, is to evaluate the geological data in preparation for the next phase of the project -- "to prove the viability of commercially producing the huge quantity of gas from the Baltic Basin."
Part of the study will include looking at more than 1,000 feet of core taken from the well and examining extensive open hole logs.
"Evaluation and interpretation of the core and logs is expected to take three-four months in preparation for continued operations later in 2012," Fanning said.
San Leon calls itself a significant player in the Polish market, with interests in six license areas. Last year it established a joint venture farm-out agreement with Talisman. The Canadian firm has committed to drilling a minimum of three wells and up to six wells on the three San Leon concessions.
The success at Lewino 1G-2 came two months after San Leon's Chopin-1 well came up dry after a $947,000 investment on a different concession. That early setback followed a $139 million purchase of fellow Polish explorer Realm Energy, the Financial Times reported.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration in April estimated Poland's shale gas deposits were the highest in Europe at around 187 trillion cubic feet of technically recoverable reserves.
The Polish Environment Ministry has issued more than 70 licenses for shale to some of the largest energy companies in the world during the last three years as it seeks to greatly reduce its dependence on Russia and the Middle East for energy.
The U.S. analysts determined Europe has 618 trillion cubic feet of technically recoverable shale gas. Along with Poland, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Britain, Austria and Hungary are also conducting shale gas explorations.
Industry experts, however, have cautioned it will take several years for the Baltic Basin to be developed and begin contributing to a realignment of Europe's energy picture.