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Polska BNK Petroleum Fracking, Poland


BNK Polska is a subsidiary of the Canada-based energy company BNK Petroleum, Inc. The company holds six of the 110 permits granted thus far for test drilling in Poland, the country with the largest shale gas deposits in Europe. The Polish government sees shale gas as an opportunity to gain energy independence. The country is currently one of the largest customers of Gazprom, the Russian energy giant, buying 10.25 billion cubic meters of natural gas from it last year alone. Yet over the past years, organised opposition to shale gas has consolidated in Poland.

In August 2013, a tanker truck contracted by BNK Petroleum to move drilling liquids between two sites overturned in a traffic circle near Bytów, releasing 424 cubic feet of drilling mud into a river, the company reported. While there were no injuries, the fluid, used to help boreholes go deeper into the ground, contains a potentially hazardous biocide.

According to a recent report from the Trans-National Institute: Poland is also the country under the most obvious fracking-induced threat of water and land grabbing. First of all, companies do not pay for water, as it is included in the land concession, not even in areas that are exposed to water shortages, as in the South. Second, Poland’s legal framework enables companies to buy the land for gas extraction even if the actual owner does not want to sell it. Shale gas extraction has been specifically included on the official government list that allows for dispossession of farmers or real estate owners. Finally, during the year 2011, when most licenses for exploration were granted, no preliminary environmental assessment was required from the companies. Due to this, companies cannot be held accountable for the state in which they return any leased land. In January 2011, the Warsaw Appeals Prosecutor’s Office announced that seven people, including government officials, have been charged with corruption during the granting of licenses for shale gas exploration.

Some media reports from Poland show that heavy-handed tactics such as spying and undercover operations are being used there against groups and individuals who question shale gas development, and anti-fracking groups claim they are being gagged and will not be allowed to participate in the upcoming COP17 events to be held in Poland.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Polska BNK Petroleum Fracking, Poland
State or province:Gdansk region
Location of conflict:Trzebielino
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Shale gas fracking
Specific commodities:Shale Gas
Natural Gas

Project Details and Actors

Project details

The deposit is an estimated 5.3 trillion cubic-meters of recoverable natural gas.

Type of populationUnknown
Start of the conflict:2010
Company names or state enterprises:BNK Petroleum Inc. from Canada - is operating through its subsidiaries
BNK Polska from Poland
Indiana Investments - three oil and gas exploration concessions in the Baltic Basin - Darłowo, Bytow and Trzebielino (granted March 2010).
Saponis Investments - three oil and gas exploration concessions in the Baltic Basin - Sławno, Słupsk and Starogard (granted June 2009)
Esrey Energy Ltd. from Canada - formerly LNG Energy Ltd.
RAG from Austria
Sorgenia from Italy
Relevant government actors:Civic Platform Party , Opposition Law and Justice Party
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Polish Geological Institute, Polish Climate Coalition, BankWatch, Polish Green Network, Food & Water Europe (US), Polish Boell Foundation, Support of anti-fracking groups in Germany & France

Conflict and Mobilization

IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Property damage/arson

Impacts of the project

Environmental ImpactsPotential: Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems
Health ImpactsPotential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors


Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Exploration is ongoing and commercial production could begin as early as 2014. In Poland as a whole, reserves so far are much lower than originally estimated, although new estimates will not be available until 2014 according to the Polish Geological Institute.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Insufficient EIAs, communities do not have the right to decide and activists are being gagged and spied on.

Sources and Materials

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites


Der Spiegel: ,1518,814125,00.html


Industry Report- What Anti-Fracking activists want assets/shale_gas_whitepaper.pdf

Food and Water Watch

Meta information

Contributor:Leah Temper
Last update08/04/2014