Total has become the first major oil and gas company to enter Britain's shale gas market, investing at least $21m (£12.7m).
The French-based firm has secured a 40 per cent interest in two shale exploration licenses in Lincolnshire, paying up to $48m (£29m). It'll be partnering with Dart Energy, Egdon Resources, IGas and eCORP oil & gas UK - all of which are currently working on the project.
A report last year showed that the Bowland basin, which runs through Lincolnshire and several other counties, could be the largest shale basin in the world. 10 per cent of its reserves would equal 130 trillion cubic feet - that's about 50 years of total UK consumption.
Total will pay $1.6m in back costs and $19.5m as a minimum commitment.
Although the company's investment isn't that great when compared with those it's made elsewhere, it marks something of a milestone when it comes to progressing the shale agenda in the UK.
Commenting on the acquisition, Patrice de Vivies, Total’s senior vice president for Northern Europe, said:
This opens a new chapter for the subsidiary in a promising onshore play.
The Group is already involved in shale gas projects in the US, Argentina, China, Australia and in Europe in Poland and in Denmark, and will leverage its expertise in this new venture in the UK.