Total seeks partner for France shale permit

Doris Leblond
OGJ Correspondent

PARIS, Jan. 31 -- Total SA is seeking a partner to replace Devon Energy Corp. on its Montelimar shale gas permit in France.

A share of up to 50% could be offered in the 5-year exploration permit awarded in March 2010 (OGJ Online, May 10, 2010).

The permit covers more than 4,300 sq km, and Total committed to a €37.8 million financial outlay. It requested a 1,859 sq km north extension in early November.

All existing shale gas knowledge in France and throughout Europe is based on old information extrapolated from US data. Total's spokesman Florent Segura told OGJ that Total is engaged in preliminary geological and geochemical studies that will take 1 year.

When they are complete, Total will drill three exploratory wells and then assess development feasibility, bringing it near the end of the permit span.

Environmentalists are increasingly up in arms against shale gas exploration and development in France, and some have even sought a moratorium on permit issuance. Environment Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet said this was legally impossible but that she would remain vigilant for any environmental damage.

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