November 25, 2009 / 7:44 PM / 9 years ago

UPDATE 1-Chesapeake, Statoil, Sasol in S. Africa shale bid

HOUSTON, Nov 25 (Reuters) - U.S. natural gas company Chesapeake Energy Corp (CHK.N), its joint venture partner Statoil ASA STL.OL and the oil and gas arm of Sasol Ltd on Wednesday launched a bid to explore for shale gas in the Karoo Basin in South Africa.

Rapid advances in drilling and production technology in North America have helped to unlock apparently vast supplies of natural gas. And now, many companies, including U.S. oil majors Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) and ConocoPhillips (COP.N) are looking for similar formations in other parts of the world.

Chesapeake, which has massive holdings in U.S. shale gas fields, formed a strategic alliance with a Norway’s Statoil in 2008 to search the globe for other shale gas fields to develop.

Aubrey McClendon, Chesapeake’s chief executive officer, told investors in a Nov. 17 presentation that his company and Statoil were looking at potential shale gas fields in Eastern Europe, Asia and South America.

The companies’ application, which requires the approval of the South African government, is expected to take about 12 months to process, South African petrochemicals group Sasol Ltd (SOLJ.J) said in a statement.

Additional details were not available. A spokesman for Oklahoma City, Oklahoma-based Chesapeake did not have a comment on the exploration application. (Reporting by Anna Driver, editing by Gerald E. McCormick) ((anna.driver@thomsonreuters.com; 1 713 210 8509; Reuters Messaging: anna.driver.reuters.com@reuters.net))

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