Shale will remain a top investment priority for Poland despite recent setbacks to the budding industry, the country’s new treasury minister has said.

Wlodzimierz Karpinski added that the government may even push state-owned energy companies further to treat shale gas projects as strategic goals.

“The pressure on companies to invest in this area will certainly not be smaller, it could even be bigger, because this is a matter of national interest,” Karpinski said in an interview for Bloomberg Businessweek.

Karpinski said the government was aware that pushing state-owned companies to invest in shale involved risks, and said that “the risk connected with exploration should be properly distributed”.

Five Polish state energy companies – gas monopoly PGNiG, copper miner KGHM and Poland’s three largest utilities PGE, Tauron and Enea – are due to work together on developing Polish shale resources.

Karpinski’s remarks come after international companies such as Talisman Energy and Marathon Oil moved to quit their positions in Polish shale, citing unsatisfactory results and an uncertain regulatory framework among the factors behind their departures.

Critics of Poland’s shale gas potential point to reduced estimates of its reserve potential and some disappointing early test results.

Poland pegged its recoverable shale gas reserves at 346 billion to 768 billion cubic metres last year, well below an earlier estimate of 5.3 trillion by the US Energy Information Administration.

Explorers active in the play remain confident that Polish shale production will become a reality in the near term, with further test wells expected to yield more promising results later this year.