Total Boosts Presence in U.K. Shale by Buying Option From Egdon

Total SA bought an option for a 50 percent stake in a shale license from Egdon Resources Plc and its partners, increasing its presence in eastern England.

Europe’s third-biggest oil company will pay as much as 13.5 million pounds ($22 million) for the exploration program in PEDL209 in the eastern part of the Gainsborough Trough, Odiham, England-based Egdon said today in a statement. The French explorer paid 1.5 million pounds for the option.

Total became the largest oil company to enter the U.K.’s shale industry through a $47 million investment for a 40 percent share in two exploration licenses in the same area this month. It’s looking for shale prospects outside France, where hydraulic fracturing for oil and natural gas trapped in rock is banned.

The companies hope to be in a position to drill a year after Paris-based Total exercises its option to buy the stake, Mark Abbott, managing director of Egdon, said in a telephone interview. Total has until December 2015 to exercise the option.

Total will become operator of the license upon completion of the works program, said Egdon, whose holding will drop by half to 30 percent. Blackland Park Exploration Ltd.’s stake will be reduced to 14 percent from 28 percent and Stelinmatvic Industries Ltd.’s share will drop to 6 percent from 12 percent.

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