State-owned Polish Petroleum and Gas Mining, known by its Polish initials PGNiG, said the deal was signed in Warsaw with Chevron Polish Energy Resources.
PGNiG President Jerzy Kurella said both sides would benefit by sharing the exploration risks, including the possible costs associated with development of the shale gas reserves in southeastern Poland.
"We could benefit from the experience of Chevron in the exploration and production of shale gas around the world," he said in a statement Thursday.
Chevron said if the exploration effort proves successful, both sides would form a joint venture for further operations in the license areas.
Neither company offered an estimate of the reserve potential in the license areas. The Polish government estimates it has as much as 3.3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reports.
Critics of hydraulic fracturing, the process used to drill in shale, have expressed concerns over environmental issues ranging from groundwater contamination to land reclamation. Some governments in Europe have placed a moratorium on shale gas development as a precaution.