Eni signs deal with Quicksilver to boost shale footprint


MILAN, Nov 5 (Reuters) - Eni has signed a deal with Quicksilver Resources to explore and develop onshore shale oil reservoirs in the United States as the Italian oil and gas group looks to expand its non-conventional energy footprint.

In a statement on Tuesday, Eni said it would pay up to $52 million to take a 50 percent stake in Quicksilver acreage in the Leon Valley area in west Texas.

"The Leon Valley acreage is located in the prolific Delaware Basin, where current production amounts to nearly 500,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, both from conventional and unconventional reservoirs," Eni said.

In 2009, Eni clinched a strategic alliance with Quicksilver for onshore shale gas designed to give it experience to search for shale gas worldwide.

Eni Chief Executive Paolo Scaroni has on several occasions said Europe should develop its own shale industry if it is to avoid being overly dependent on Russia.

State-controlled Eni has shale gas deals in place in Poland and Algeria and could be set to sign an agreement in Ukraine.

In September, Ukrainian Energy Minister Eduard Stavytsky said Eni had expressed interest in exploring gas deposits on the Black Sea shelf and last week Scaroni met Ukraine's president.

Ukraine signed a $10 billion shale gas production-sharing agreement with U.S. energy major Chevron on Tuesday in the country's second such deal this year.

Eni currently produces more than 90,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day in the United States.