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Abstract

Since the early 2000s, the exploitation of shale gas has radically modified the US energy scenario. In a number of European countries, the US boom has elicited questions about its repeatability in Europe. Among the staunchest supporters of the development of national shale-gas resources were Polish administrations, which grounded their activism in this domain in the language of energy security, autonomy vis-à-vis Russian gas, and in Poland’s old oil history. The history of hydrocarbon exploration in the country dates back to the mid-nineteenth century, and is connected to the oil boom that occurred in the region of Galicia. While the boom was over by World War I, promising estimations made in recent years by several agencies about Poland’s shale gas reserves have stirred hopes of a ‘second Galicia’. From 2007, the Polish government started assigning permits to both national and foreign gas companies. However, factors linked to legislation, geology and macroeconomics caused a premature end to hopes of Polish autonomy. After a reconstruction of the history of oil in Galicia and the constitution of the Polish oil and gas sector, this paper narrates the rise and fall of Poland’s ‘affair’ with shale gas.

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