GDF Suez said it acquired a 25 percent stake in 13 onshore licenses in the Bowland shale gas reserve area from Australian energy company Dart Energy. The French company will pay $12 million to Dart upfront.
"We are very confident about the potential of shale gas in the U.K., and its anticipated contributions to U.K. energy security," Jean-Marie Dauger, executive vice president at GDF Suez, said in a statement.
The British Geological Survey in June estimated the Bowland shale formation in the north of the country contains 1.3 quadrillion cubic feet of natural gas. A government report said shale could ensure energy security for a country where net natural gas imports are on pace to increase from 45 percent of demand in 2011 to 76 percent by 2030.
Apart from the sale, Dart said it secured an agreement with GDF Suez to focus collectively on unconventional natural gas resources, "especially shale."