GDF Suez Buys into UK Shale Gas Projects

GDF Suez will take part in UK shale gas projects after agreeing to buy UK onshore licenses from unconventional gas firm Dart Energy.

Dart reported Tuesday that 13 out the 31 UK licenses it holds are being sold to GDF in a farm-out deal. All 13 licenses are located in the western and eastern parts of the Bowland Basin. The basin, located in northwest England, is considered highly prospective for shale gas, with a DECC/British Geological Survey study estimating gas resources potential there at between 822 and 2,281 trillion cubic feet.

Dart is currently the operator of the licenses, holding a 100-percent interests in each. GDF Suez E&P UK will acquire a 25-percent working interest in each license.

Dart, which as well as shale gas is also involved in several coal-bed methane (CBM) projects in the UK, will receive $12 million from GDF as part of the deal, with GDF also agreeing to meet Dart's share of exploration costs within the license areas up to an amount of $27 million. The funding will support an agreed unconventional exploration and appraisal program over a three-year period, including drilling up to four shale gas exploration wells in different parts of the Bowland Basin as well as 10 CMB exploration wells.

GDF Executive Vice-President Jean-Marie Dauger commented in a statement Tuesday:

"We are very confident about the potential of shale gas in the UK, and its anticipated contributions to UK energy security. GDF Suez is pleased to enter this first investment in UK shale gas as it complements the large presence of the group in the UK. We look forward to working with our partner, Dart Energy, to unlock the potential of these licenses."

Dart CEO John McGoldrick added:

"The level of interest in UK unconventional gas is growing almost daily. Dart holds one of the 
UK's largest unconventional acreage positions, and today's agreement represents a significant development for Dart.

"We will receive $12 million in cash, but more importantly Dart will be funded into a substantial work program consisting of up to four shale and 10 CBM wells aimed at establishing the viability of both shale and CBM on 13 of our Bowland licenses, at the same time retaining a 75-percent interest and operatorship."

GDF is the second major oil and gas firm to buy into unconventional gas in the Bowland Basin, after Centrica bought a 25-percent stake in Cuadrilla Resources' Bowland shale gas license in June this year.

A former engineer, Jon is an award-winning editor who has covered the technology, engineering and energy sectors since the mid-1990s. Email Jon at


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