Total mulls UK shale gas bid

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French oil giant Total yesterday admitted that it would like to explore for shale gas in Britain but denied newspaper reports that it is in talks to acquire stakes in exploration blocks.

Chancellor George Osborne’s bid to exploit shale gas deposits was boosted this month when Scottish Gas-owner Centrica bought a 25 per cent stake in a major discovery in Lancashire, ahead of drilling next year.

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

A spokesman said: “Total is interested in shale gas in the UK, but we are in a phase where we’re are thinking about it, we are not in talks, we are awaiting the bidding rounds. There are several interesting areas and we continue to study carefully the potential of each.”