Shale gas permits awarded in southern France

French energy authorities have officially awarded shale gas exploration permits after some delay due to the number of companies that competed for licenses in the southeastern part of the country.

Doris Leblond
OGJ Correspondent

PARIS, Mar. 31 -- French energy authorities have officially awarded shale gas exploration permits after some delay due to the number of companies that competed for licenses in the southeastern part of the country.

Charles Lamiraux, chief geologist at the Environment and Energy Ministry in charge of exploration permits, divided the prospective area into smaller parcels (OGJ Online, May 27, 2009, and June 15, 2009).

Total E&P France and a unit of Devon Energy Corp., Oklahoma City, were awarded Montelimar Permit for 5 years and an outlay of €37.8 million. The 4,327 sq km awarded is 60% of the original surface requested. Geological and geochemical studies will be followed by drilling if warranted.

Devon decided at the end of 2009 to focus on North America, and Total E&P France has acquired Devon’s French affiliate, pending ministerial approval

Acreage sought by Schuepbach Energy LLC, Dallas, Dale Gas Partners LP of Texas, and Franco-Belgian GDF Suez, was split in two. The Villeneuve-de-Berg Permit covers 931 sq km, and the Nant Permit covers 4,414 sq km. Both are awarded for 3 years.

For Berg the outlay is €39.9 million for seismic reprocessing, shooting 30 line-km of new seismic, and drilling two wells to 2,000-3,200 m, the last 1,000 m laterally with a hydraulic frac in the shale. The Nant program is €1.7 million for seismic reprocessing, shooting 30 line-km, and drilling a 500-m well.

The ministry awarded the Navacelle Permit, whittled by one third to 216 sq km, to Egdon Resources (New Venture) Ltd. of the UK, Eagle Energy Ltd., and YCI Energy Ltd. for 5 years, seismic surveys, and one well at a cost of €3.6 million.

Mouvoil SA of Switzerland won the Bassin d’Ales Permit for 5 years and €1 million for seismic and drilling of one well.

Bridgeoil Ltd. and Diamoco Energy were awarded the 503-sq-km Plaine d’Ales Permit for 4 years. Work program is €1.5 million for seismic reprocessing and drilling a new well or reentering a 1949 well that found heavy crude.

The ministry rejected applications of Cevennes Petroleum Development Ltd. for two other permits.

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