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Toreador targets “100bn barrels” shale-oil in France

There could be 100bn barrels of oil in the Paris basin, claims one of the firms trying to tap the resource. If true, it would be one of the biggest finds in the world

TOREADOR RESOURCES, which already has 0.65m acres and an additional 0.65m acres pending award in the Paris basin, the lowland region around the French capital, says there is “tremendous shale-oil potential” in the area. Recoverable reserves using existing methods of extraction amount to 0.6m barrels, although the ultimate resource is far higher, Toreador says.

The firm, which is listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange, says the geology is similar to the Bakken formation, which straddles the US-Canada border in the central prairie region, and holds 4.3bn barrels of recoverable oil, according to the US Geological Survey. “We just think everyone’s missed this,” says Toreador chief executive Craig McKenzie.

The Paris-based company, which is working with US independent Hess to develop the basin’s shale-oil deposits, is aiming for eventual production of 0.5m barrels from each well, or around 400 barrels a day (b/d). McKenzie tells PE the company is looking to begin production by second-quarter 2011.

Toreador’s acreage also contains 9.1m barrels of conventional-oil, but McKenzie says these resources are “not as important” as the shale oil. The firm produces around 900 b/d of conventional oil.

Hess paid $15m to become co-holder of Toreador’s France exploration permits and will invest up to $120m in the project over the next five years. Hess, which also has around 0.5m acres in the Bakken, signed an agreement with PetroChina in September 2010 to develop shale oil in China’s Daqing oilfield.

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