Shell Blindsided By French Halting Guyana Drilling
06/13/2012| 12:39pm US/Eastern
-- Anglo-Dutch giant says it hasn't received official notice of French plan to cancel Guyana offshore permits
-- French Environment Minister says she is "starting again" with all Guyana offshore oil licenses
-- Shell, Total and Tullow have already started major exploration program in waters off French Guyana coast
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By Alexis Flynn
Royal Dutch Shell PLC (>> ROYAL DUTCH SHELL PLC-B) said Wednesday it has yet to be officially notified of a French decision to suspend oil drilling in the waters off the coast of its overseas region of Guyana.
"We have not been officially informed of this action and have no comment at this time," said a Shell spokesman.
Earlier Wednesday, French Environment Minister Nicole Bricq said all oil exploration offshore French Guyana has been suspended until further notice.
"I am starting over again with all the licenses" for offshore oil exploration, Ms. Bricq told AFP. The environment ministry confirmed to Dow Jones Newswires that oil exploration drilling permits offshore French Guyana have been suspended pending the review of the French mining code.
Shell, along with partners Tullow Oil PLC (>> Tullow Oil plc) and Total SA (TOT), have made significant discoveries in its license areas in the region, which geologists believe contains oil reservoirs that mirror those off the coast of West Africa.
Total wasn't immediately available to comment, while Tullow referred all questions to Shell as the operator.
Geraldine Amiel in Paris contributed to this report
Write to Alexis Flynn at Alexis.Flynn@DowJones.com