In Europe: Denmark, France, Poland and United Kingdom

Unlike North America, which has a long history of shale gas production, Europe has no precedent for exploiting this resource. Although the exploration licenses awarded in France have now been revoked, appraisal work continues actively in Denmark and in Poland.

Shale Gas in Denmark

Denmark has extensive experience producing oil and gas in the North Sea. However its offshore production is declining and renewable energies will not be sufficient to meet the country's future energy needs. In response, Denmark is exploring for onshore oil and gas, including shale gas.

Recent studies by the International Energy Agency (IEA) indicate that Denmark is one of the European countries with significant shale gas potential.

In 2010, the Danish Ministry of Climate and Energy awarded Total two exploration licenses as operator, in partnership with the Danish North Sea Fund. Located in the Norddjylland and Nordsjaelland regions, the cover a total surface area of 5,261 square kilometers. An exploration well is scheduled to be drilled on one of the licenses in 2014.

Exploration began in 2010 and will continue until 2016. The work conducted during this period will determine whether or not gas is present and, if so, whether it is technically and economically feasible to develop. During this process, Total has pledged to take into account environmental and social aspects, consistent with national and local concerns.

Map of the subsurface exploration licenses issued in Denmark to prospect for shale gas

Shale Gas in France

In 2010, the French Ministry of Ecology awarded Total the Montélimar license for a five-year period. It was one of three subsurface exploration licenses granted in France to prospect for shale gas. The Montélimar license covers an area of 4,327 square kilometers extending southward from below Valence to the region around Montpellier, in southeastern France.

On October 13, 2011, against a backdrop of growing controversy over shale gas development, the government announced that the Montélimar license has been revoked - despite the fact that the work program submitted to the authorities complied with the applicable legislation and excluded hydraulic fracturing.

On December 12, 2011, we filed in appeal in the Paris Administrative Court in order to calrify the situation, given that we had complied with the Act of July 13, 2011 which was used as the basis for the license being revoked.

France Map

Appraise fo Shale Gas Potential in Poland

The Polish government has already awarded numerous licenses to explore basins identified as potentially containing shale gas. Poland is believed to hold some of Europe's largest shale gas reserves.

In December 2013, Total acquired 100% of the interests and became operator of the Chelm concession in the Lublin basin. The Chelm concession with a surface area of 1162km2 was initially awarded for a period of five years starting in March 2009.

Seismic data were acquired, a well has been drilled and production tests performed.

Poland Map

Shale Gas in the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom has a long tradition in oil and gas, with both oil and gas deposits discovered during the mid 1800’s, oil from shale being produced onshore as long ago as 1851 in Scotland. The first offshore deposit was discovered in the UK North Sea in 1965. However since 1999, production has decreased by almost 40%.
From a study by the British Geological Survey June 2013, the amount of shale gas that may be recoverable in the UK underground is estimated to be approx 3 600 billion mᶾ, equivalent to over  40 years supply in the UK at current consumption. In 2012 the UK government authorized the exploration and production of this resource. 

Early in 2014, Total acquired a 40% interest in two shale gas exploration and production licenses in the UK. These are located in the East Midlands and cover an area of 240 km².

Total takes its environmental responsibilities very seriously. Even where Total may not be the operator, we will fully support the operating company in employing all best practices to minimise any environmental impact. This will respect all local regulation and permit conditions. 

Shale Gas in the United Kingdom