Shale gas driller asks France for 1 billion euro compensation: report


U.S.-based energy firm Schuepbach Energy is asking the French government for 1 billion euros ($1.36 billion) in compensation for blocking its shale gas exploration permits in France, an industry newsletter said on Friday, citing unnamed sources.

French President Francois Hollande has repeatedly ruled out shale gas exploration during his presidency, confirming a ban on hydraulic fracking introduced by his Conservative predecessor.

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France's top court said this summer it would examine the challenge to the ban by Schuepbach Energy, which held two exploration permits that were canceled when the law was passed in 2011.

The ruling is expected on October 11.

Contacted by Reuters, Martin Schuepbach, founder of the company, declined to comment on the compensation figure.

"I hope that shale gas will return to France, because it's environmentally safe, as we saw in the States," he said. "It would make a big difference for the French economy."

The compensation request by Schuepbach for permits in Nant and Villeneuve-de-Berg, in southern France, is separate from next week's ruling, the BIP oil and gas industry bulletin said in excerpts published in an emailed newsletter on Friday.

A spokeswoman for the French energy ministry declined to comment on ongoing legal procedures.

($1 = 0.7340 euros)

(Reporting by Michel Rose; editing by David Evans)