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    Update: France Cancels Three Shale Gas Permits



French government plans to cancel shale gas exploration permits granted to Total SA and Schuepbach Energy.


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Update: France Cancels Three Shale Gas Permits

France has decided to repeal three licenses to search for shale gas in the south of France that were initially granted in spring 2010.

Minister of the Environment Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet confirmed that two licenses for Nant (Aveyron)and Villeneuve-de-Berg (Ardèche) granted to Schuepbach Energy. and the Montelimar (Drôme) license granted to Total SA, will be repealed.

The French government's action was first reported this weekend by Le Figaro.

France has passed legislation banning the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing in the use of unconventional hydrocarbon development

The legislation required license holders of prospective shale gas and shale oil concessions to advise the Directorate General for Energy and Climate if they intended to move forth with exploration activities and to declare the technique that would be used.

Any companies undertaking hydraulic fracturing in unconventional hydrocarbon extraction would have its permits revoked.

Schuepbach reportedly did not repudiate 'fracking' as part of its activities.  

Total said that it intended to continue investigations into developing shale gas resources in the southeast of France, but stressed it would not use the banned technique.

"The work program described in the report does not use the technique of hydraulic fracturing," Total said.

Although sources indicate that experts judged the report presented by the French group to be in accordance with the law, Total's position was not accepted by the government.

 "We will not accept the press release of Total at face value, we will base ourselves on the report," declared Kosciusko-Morizet earlier.

On Saturday, Total Chief Executive Christophe de Margerie, told French radio that the company had respected all the laws on exploration in Montelimar and that he was awaiting the government's decision.

A total of 64 permits have been issued to companies seeking to develop potential oil and gas reserves in France. With the exception of the Schuepbach and Total permits, all of the others including those held by Toreador Resources Corp., which is seeking to explore and develop shale oil fields in France, have been maintained.