France’s Total Eyeing UK Shale Gas Opportunities

From Platts

France’s Total is considering investing in the development of shale gas in the UK, the company’s CEO Christophe de Margerie said Thursday, as the company’s home market remains off-limits to shale gas explorers.

“We see potential in the UK, and we see an opportunity for development for Total,” de Margerie told reporters at a briefing in London. “We are discussing this with the relevant partners.”

The UK in December last year lifted a moratorium on the use of hydraulic fracturing in shale gas exploration.

Fracking for shale gas was halted in May 2011 after early tests by explorer Cuadrilla Resources in Lancashire, northwest England, were linked to two small earth tremors.

A long-awaited report on shale gas resources in the northwest of the UK is due to be published soon by the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

Recent media reports have suggested there could be anything between 1,300 and 1,700 trillion cubic feet in Cuadrilla’s Bowland shale alone, which would be about 250 times more than previously expected.

Only a small fraction of the resources might be classifiable as reserves, which need to be economic, however.

The UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Davey said the decision to allow fracking to resume was based on scientific evidence.

In France, fracking remains banned, and de Margerie said the debate needed to be reopened.

“For France and for shale gas, scientists and others need to discuss the issue,” he said.

Total is also looking at exploring for shale gas in Denmark and Poland, de Margerie said, “and we hope in China.”

He also said Total has old and new acreage in Argentina “with great potential for shale.”

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