Eni and Algerian energy company Sonatrach signed a cooperation agreement to develop unconventional resources, paying special attention to shale gas.
"With extensive experience in exploration and production of unconventional oil, Eni and Sonatrach will jointly implement activities to assess the technical and commercial feasibility of exploration and operational initiatives in shale gas," the Italian company said in a statement.
Eni added there were "significant shale gas reserves" in Algeria.
The boom in shale in the United States has been met with scrutiny from critics who complain the alternative resource might do more harm than good.
A report from the U.S. House of Representatives said last week that oil and gas companies involved in shale gas production used fluids containing dozens of chemicals that are carcinogenic, considered harmful in drinking water or are listed as hazardous.
The House report comes on the heels of a Cornell University study published online in the journal Climatic Change that concludes methane leaked during shale gas production does more harm to the environment than burning coal.