Dart Plans Shale Drilling in U.K.’s Bowland Prospect Next Year

Dart Energy Ltd., a coal-bed methane and shale gas explorer in Australia, Asia and Europe, plans to drill exploratory wells in the U.K.’s Bowland acreage next year as the government prepares tax breaks for drillers.

The company is also “actively engaged with parties” and expects to finalize a joint-venture agreement this year, Mark Lappin, general manager for Dart in Europe, said in an interview at a conference in London yesterday.

The U.K. will offer a “generous new tax regime” to encourage drillers as it seeks to boost domestic energy resources to counter a decline in North Sea oil and gas output, it said last month. Dart said last week it was looking for partners to develop its Bowland shale in northwest England, which may hold as much as 110 trillion cubic feet of gas.

Dart is drilling development wells in license 133 in Airth, Scotland, after encountering a steady flow of gas from its coal-bed methane project last year, Lappin said. The Sydney-listed company expects first gas sales in 2014, he said.

During a three-month test period in the fourth quarter, more than 500,000 standard cubic feet of gas a day flowed from the well, the company said in a statement in January.

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