June 7 (Reuters) - British utility Centrica is in talks to buy a stake in the Bowland Shale licences owned by Cuadrilla Resources in Lancashire, England, a source familiar with the situation confirmed to Reuters.
Centrica and the shale gas-driller Cuadrilla declined to comment on the talks, which were first reported by the Financial Times on Friday.
Cuadrilla's part owner, Australian company AJ Lucas Group , said in January that it was in talks with energy investors to sell a stake in the shale gas explorer, amid media speculation that Centrica was a key contender in the discussions.
The company has reported its Bowland Shale licences could contain as much as 200 trillion cubic feet of gas.
British Gas owner Centrica, along with the rest of the country, is trying to diversify its gas portfolio and in March was one of the first companies globally to sign a U.S. LNG import agreement.
Britain, which has been looking at huge shale gas reserves to help cut its reliance on expensive gas imports and to contribute to state coffers, introduced generous tax breaks for shale gas in March.