Talisman’s Shale Gas Ambassadors
“Was Poland prepared for the success?”
With the recent spudding of its Lewino 1G2 well on the Gdansk-W concession in partnership with San Leon Energy, Dariusz Latka, HSE Lead at Talisman Energy Polska Sp. z.o.o. posed the question about Poland's country’s shale gas potential.
In a speech touting the “facts and myths” of unconventional gas production, he began by mentioning the infrastructural challenges.
But it was a positive attitude, he said, that was necessary for engaging with communities.
“We’re applying a good neighbor policy in Poland (like in Canada),” he explained of Talisman. “We’ve hired local people to be our ambassadors and to convince people that we care.
“It pays off,” Mr. Latka added, who went on to share some of Talisman’s experience with shale gas in Poland.
“We are the holder of three concessions,” he said of Talisman, showing an area that was highly developed; a Natura 2000 protected nature area; and one area closer to the centre of an ellipsis on his presentation.
He explained that Talisman had divided tasks with its partner, San Leon: “They did the geophysics job and we are going to do the vertical drilling.”
“What we’ve encountered,” he explained, “was a limited data set so geology work was necessary; and limited public understanding: so we’ve explained in simple words, in simple messages about the benefits and issues that may arise during the process.”
“Gasland is on the public shelves in Warsaw. Bad news spreads fast,” he said of the American film showing the alleged damage from hydraulic fracturing operations in the US.
In terms of environmental concerns, Mr. Latka said that while people sometimes stood up in public meetings, they often disappeared after that.
“There are long procedures for commercial development, with numerous entry conditions,” he said of shale gas operations in Poland. “In the meantime the environmental law in Poland has changed.”
According to Mr. Latka, every local government in Poland had a different approach, but it was important to keep contact with them. “This is a chance for them and we try to show this to people.”
He reported, “We have produced leaflets on shale gas which are full of facts. We distribute these during the meetings. With local stakeholders there is always room for discussion. You can raise the standard of life for their communities as well. They are helpful.
Mentioning the public concerns of shale gas operations, he included protection of the natural environment and ground water resources, technology and chemicals used, sustainable water management, and the possibility of any mining hazards occurring.
He reported: “Last fall we were trying to do water analysis for surface water, to use the surface water, which is very limited in Poland; access is not easy and you are afraid of traffic, transport of water to your site. Get your supply from the municipality if they allow you to do it.”
Mr. Latka recalled the occurrence of mining hazards in Poland, and how Poles reacted to perceived dangers.
“‘Houses were broken up in the Silesian region,’ they might say. This is the way people think.”
In terms of road destruction in Poland, Latka quipped that they were already destroyed. “You must document the state of the road prior to usage,” he explained.
“There will be noise for sure, air pollution for sure if you use generators. But locals may be used to agricultural machinery.”
“How will their life change, for an elderly woman living in a village for a long time? Once the gas is found, her life will change,” he said.
Some, of course, might worry about fast traffic too close to their houses.
“It’s good to advise the drivers,” he recommended, speaking of transport operations in and out of a shale gas play. “We’ve made an agreement with them to reduce their speed through villages and not transport anything during the rush hour when they’re taking their kids to school.”
Lorries at higher speeds could raise concerns, he mentioned. “We’ve placed a sign at the beginning of the village signaling to them to lower their speed. These are small things which are quite inexpensive and can create good and positive attitudes that show you care,” he said.
In terms of land degradation, Latka said the technology had moved forward, and that multiple well pads were a viable technology for Poland. He added: “If you have electricity from local grid the air pollution can be solved.”
As for the lighting of the derrick, he said some locals liked the light, and some complained. “The good news is that it won’t last forever, 50-60 days at the most. So it’s not going to be much of a problem.”
He likened water usage to watering agricultural fields: “For a 3 hectare field you need as much water as you need for a frack, only the time period is different.”
In terms of the chemical substances used in fracking he said that all of them would be declared in Europe, unlike in the US or Canada.
“Flowback water will appear,” he said. “The real challenge is what to do with it.”
Latka showed the properties of flowback water and how it changed considering the wetness of different regions. “They are all different, the technologies to treat them are varied.”
“We’ve received good response from waste treatment plants, and they can give the opportunity to treat the water,” he reported. “The price depends on the content. It’s good to use flowback water for new fracking but you may have transport and storage costs.”
He showed a flowback reuse cycle, and the benefits versus the costs: less trucking but a need for storage and treatment.
“How much treatment is required on the water?” and “What is permitted and allowable by the treatment plant?” were questions he posed. Latka briefly spoke on the removal of suspended solids and sand clay, and scaling agents among others.
He offered his advice for engaging with communities hosting drilling operations.
“Base the discussion on facts, aim for zero risk, listen to them and show you care.
Your failures will resonate widely, so success must be planned for.
“Unconventional gas takes unconventional thinking,” he concluded. “We thought we were running out of oil, but maybe we were just running out of ideas.”
When asked what he thought the most powerful tools were for convincing a local community that they needed shale gas, he said:
“It all starts with making contact, listening to their needs. It helps when the person is Polish, because it provides understanding, especially in cases when they have concerns about a road that goes to a local tourist attraction. You can show that you did something for them,” explained Mr. Latka.
“It’s all about listening and determining the things you can do for them.”
Still, it was important not for an E&P not to overextend its commitments to inhabitants.
“You don’t know what the fruit is that awaits you at the end of the drilling. You are bearing the total costs of this thing and it’s not cheap,” he said. “It’s only the exploration phase, so there are not many commitments now.”