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France's Total invests in UK shale gas

Shale gas extraction in Fort Worth, Texas, in the US
Shale gas extraction in Fort Worth, Texas, in the US Getty/AFP /Robert Nickelsberg

French energy giant Total is to search for shale gas in the UK, even though its extraction, known as "fracking", is banned in France. Total will be the first oil company to invest in the controversial process in Britain.

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Total is to officially announce the plan on Monday, according to London-based business newspaper the Financial Times.

Exploration is to take place in the East Midlands county of Lincolnshire in partnership with Singapore's Dart Energy and the UK-lised Igas and Egdon Resources.

France's GDF Suez announced a shale gas partnership with Dart on 22 October.

Opponents of fracking claim that it brings the risk of pollution of the water table and earthquakes and successive French governments have forbidden its development, although some ministers are in favour of dropping the ban.

The British government has made a top priority of developing it, offering tax breaks to developers.

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