President Barack Obama will concentrate his efforts on energy cooperation, including shale gas development, when he visits NATO partner Poland for the first time next week, U.S. ambassador Lee Feinstein told delegates to a shale gas conference in Warsaw.
"Energy is a pillar of Polish-American relations and it is sure to be the subject of discussions when President Obama visits Warsaw next week," said Feinstein.
Global fuel giants are exploring Poland's shale gas deposits, which a recent U.S. study pegged as having a potential 5.3 trillion cubic meters of natural gas which could last Poland some 300 years.
The U.S. has become a global leader in the production of natural gas extracted from shale, boosting its energy security, driving down prices and making it an exporter. Poland hopes it could reap similar benefits. However, experts insist that with exploration in the very early stages, it is too soon to gauge commercial viability.
Poland covers 30% of its gas needs from domestic resources.
France recently banned shale gas exploration amid environmental concerns over hydraulic fracturing used in gas extraction.
"We know that in some countries there are initiatives to ban shale gas exploration, but those who are planning this we say 'be not afraid', new technologies always bring some new challenges," said Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski.
"If we would let fear guide us, we could not invest in nuclear energy and a medium-sized country such as France or Poland needs both," he added, referring to plans by Warsaw to build Poland's first nuclear plant by 2020.
Poland is also hoping Obama's May 27-28 visit will pave the way for the stationing of US F-16 fighter jets on Polish soil for the first time, its defense minister said last week amid detailed talks on military co-operation.
Obama is due to travel to Ireland, Britain, France and Poland from May 23-28. He will attend the Group of Eight summit in France just before his Warsaw visit.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011