June 26, 2013 / 1:40 PM / 5 years ago

Total eyes UK shale gas, awaits bidding for a stake

PARIS, June 26 (Reuters) - French oil major Total would like to explore shale gas in Britain but is not currently in talks to acquire stakes in exploration blocks, a company spokesman said on Wednesday.

Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper reported on Tuesday Total had held talks with several other energy firms to acquire a stake in their existing exploration blocks in the UK.

“Total is interested in shale gas in the United Kingdom, but we are in a phase where we’re are thinking about it, we are not in talks, we are awaiting the bidding rounds,” the spokesman said.

“There are several interesting areas for shale gas development and we continue to study carefully the potential of each to allow ourselves to be well prepared, in particular in the context of the upcoming onshore round,” the spokesman added.

Britain’s bid to exploit shale gas deposits was boosted this month when utility Centrica Plc, parent of British Gas, bought a quarter stake in a major gas-bearing formation in northern England, ahead of expanded drilling next year.

The UK energy ministry expects to update domestic shale gas recovery estimates by the end of July, in what is widely expected to be a major upgrade. But experts say only exploration drilling can determine the extent of recoverable deposits.

Total has already signed shale gas exploration deals in countries such as Poland, Australia, China, Argentina and the United States.

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