Total plans to drill a test well for shale gas in Denmark by the end of this year

Total to test for shale gas in Denmark

Total plans to drill Denmark's first test wells for shale gas in December or January, the French energy firm said on Friday, following its deals to explore for unconventional hydrocarbons in Britain and Russia.

Faced with France's ban on exploring for shale gas at home, Total is emerging as one of the most active oil and gas majors betting on a US-style shale boom in Europe.

Total said it planned to conduct test drilling in Denmark for three months.

"If the results are positive, a test using hydraulic fracturing (fracking) will be carried out in 2015," a spokeswoman for the firm said in an email.

Total holds 80 per cent of the licence and Denmark's state-owned North Sea Fund the other 20 per cent.

The French firm struck a deal this year to explore for shale gas in Britain, buying two licences in northern England.

It also struck a deal with Russia's No 2 oil producer Lukoil last May to tap "tight" oil reserves in the Bazhenov play in Siberia, one of the world's largest shale oil formations.

Total is also investing in research and development in the search for alternatives to fracking, such as exploration using pyrolysis.

The Frederikshavn municipality in northern Denmark gave Total approval last week to drill conventional wells in shale formations about 4,000 metres (13,120 feet) below the surface.

A separate environmental impact assessment (EIA) study and permits will be needed to use hydraulic fracking, Total said.

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