The Norwegian energy company Statoil announced that it had signed an agreement with Valeura Energy, a Canadian exploration company, to help explore the shale gas potential in the European north-western part of Turkey, United Press International reported.

The terms of agreement state that Statoil will own a 50% stake in the Barnali license, while Valeura Energy will keep the remaining shares and will continue to be the operator in an area known to have been producing gas for nearly 100 years.

The exploration licenses cover an area of approximately 540 square kilometers and the work will be developed in several phases, where the first includes the commitment of drilling one exploration well, with planned spudding late 2016 or early 2017, Trend News Agency wrote.

Turkey is seeking time ago for local and foreign partners for joint exploration and development of shale gas fields in order to reduce dependence on foreign supplies. Currently, the country is cooperating with Royal Dutch Shell to develop the shale gas deposits in the province of Diyarbakir.

However, the largest reserves of shale gas are found mainly in South-Eastern Turkey, as well as in the provinces of Edirne, Istanbul, Ankara and the country’s Black Sea coast. According to the Turkish Association of Petroleum Geologists (TPJD)  shale gas reserves in Turkey are estimated at 1.8tcm,  which is enough for the country for 40 years with an annual consumption at 45bcm.