A Chevron flag in the North Sea. Associated Press

The Polish government is speeding up discussions to set more business-friendly regulations for its untapped shale gas industry, officials said Wednesday.

Poland has some of the most promising sites for shale gas exploration in the European Union. The Polish Geological Institute estimates the country has reserves of between 346 billion and 768 billion cubic meters of recoverable shale gas.

But so far, the country has only about 50 wells, too few to evaluate its shale gas potential more precisely.

Poland’s Environmental Minister Maciej Grabowski said Wednesday he expects a “year of true breakthrough” and about 30 new shale gas drillings this year after the introduction of new regulations.

Currently, Poland depends on its past Communist big brother Russia for 60 percent of its gas.

Drilling and exploration companies have said Poland’s permit procedures are too complicated and that the government needs to develop a tax plan for the industry. Many are tired of waiting for reforms. Exxon Mobile Corp. (NYSE:XOM), Talisman Energy Inc. (NYSE:TLM) and Marathon Oil Corp. (NYSE:MRO) all took their projects elsewhere in the past few months.

But Chevron Corp. (NYSE:CVX) is already poised to benefit from the new regulations, having signed a deal in December with Poland’s most popular gas company, PGNiG SA, on shale gas exploration.

The new bill describing the regulations is not yet published, but it contains a plan to create a national regulator and make licensing procedures less of a hassle, Prime Minister Donald Tusk said on Wednesday.

"More and more countries are betting on shale gas -- for example, Great Britain -- so we had to opt for a less bureaucratic model of regulations," Tusk said.