French frackers lead shale foray into the UK

The fracking debate has caused an almighty rumpus in the UK, with everyone from Yoko Ono to the Church of England piping up on the issue. While the fate of our energy sources is by no means sealed, one of last week’s biggest deals demonstrates a crucial point: the energy giants are coming, and they want our shale.

Fresh off the back of news that the French government has upheld its ban on fracking, Parisian energy powerhouse GDF Suez has made its first move into the shale gas industry here in the UK. Having scouted out various sites worldwide, it finally settled on a comfy spot in the Bowland Basin thanks to the UK government’s pro-fracking regulatory and tax regime.

Last week’s deal saw GDF Suez team up with Dart Energy, acquiring a 25 per cent share in 13 UK onshore petroleum exploration and development licenses for £7.5m. It’ll also pay out an additional £16.7m in ongoing costs.

Baker Botts led for GDF Suez, with Travers Smith providing extra advice on the environmental and planning regulatory side. Maclay Murray & Spens was instructed by Dart to advise alongside its in-house legal team.

It’s only the second fracking deal to take place in the UK, after Centrica’s acquisition of a £160m stake in the Bowland Basin from Cuadrilla Resources in June 2013. But it certainly looks as if it won’t be the last.

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