Canada, Poland Partner to Develop Shale Gas

Leaders pledge to protect the environment while promoting shale gas expansion.

Visiting Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and his Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper on Monday announced that their two countries would bolster energy cooperation to develop shale gas deposits.

Both nations are believed to hold large deposits of shale gas -- a natural gas trapped in flakes of sedimentary rock -- and energy companies are eager to tap into them.

"Prime Minister Tusk and I have also formally agreed to work together to advance energy security," Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper told a joint press conference in Ottawa.

Tusk added, "As responsible governments, we must care for the energy security from the strategic perspective of both Canada and Poland and here, the exploration and production of shale gas seems to be absolutely crucial."

Shale gas has become an increasingly important energy source in the United States over the last decade and interest in it is now spreading around the world, despite concerns of environmentalists.

Bilateral cooperation reflects Poland's desire for energy independence from Russia. For Canada, it builds on a desire to become, as Harper has said, an "energy superpower."

Both leaders said they are sensitive to environmental concerns related to shale gas mining, including the release of methane -- a greenhouse gas -- into the atmosphere, of pollutants in ground water and its suspected triggering of earthquakes.

Tusk said protecting the environment while promoting shale gas exploration is "very important."

Poland is one of Canada's biggest trading partners in central and eastern Europe, with bilateral imports and exports totaling $1.7 billion. Canada is also home to nearly 1 million citizens of Polish origin.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012

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