January 15, 2013 / 1:36 PM / 5 years ago

Chevron seeks Lithuania shale gas, oil exploration permit

* Chevron sole bidder for Lithuanian shale oil or gas field

* Baltic state wants to reduce reliance on Russian energy imports

VILNIUS, Jan 15 (Reuters) - U.S. energy group Chevron was the sole applicant for a permit for exploration and extraction rights of shale gas or oil in a field in Lithuania, an official said on Tuesday.

Lithuania wants to reduce its dependence on energy imports from regional giant Russia as well as make the most of any hydrocarbon reserves. Other eastern European countries including Poland also want to explore their shale gas reserves.

The Lithuanian exploration contract would give Chevron 7 years to explore unconventional hydrocarbon reserves in the 1,800 square kilometre Silute-Taurage field. It would also grant it 10 years to explore for conventional oil in the field.

The head of the State Geological Survey Juozas Mockevicius told Reuters locally-registered company, Chevron Exploration & Production Lietuva, was the only participant in the tender which closed on Monday.

"The winner in the tender should be confirmed in the three months after the application has been checked. Then a contract should be finalised and signed in three more months," he said.

The winner has to invest at least 80 million litas ($31 million) in the exploration under the permit's terms.

A study by the U.S. Energy Information Administration has said Lithuania could have recoverable shale gas reserves of 113 billion cubic metres. Mockevicius told Reuters that in Lithuania finding shale oil was more likely than shale gas.

Chevron last October bought 50 percent of Lithuania-registered oil company LL Investicijos, which holds a licence to prospect for oil and gas at the 2,400 square km Rietavas field.

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