ConocoPhillips is poised to launch the first shale gas drilling program in Poland next month, which is thought to have vast reserves of the gas. ExxonMobil, Marathon, and Talisman Energy are set to follow suit, as new shale gas production techologies are developed. Gazprom was reportedly the only large Russian oil and gas company to fail to meet geological survey plans in 2009. A French criminal probe has been reopened into Total Oil, now once again under formal investigation over suspected bribery relating to the United Nations oil-for-food programme during Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq. ExxonMobil will pay the US government $32.2 million in a settlement to resolve claims that it knowingly underpaid royalties owed on natural gas produced from federal and native American leases. Italy’s Eni was forced to pull a $1 billion auction of North Sea assets after no bids met the asking price, reflecting problems independent oil companies have had accessing financing from banks, says the FT.