GAIL India Ltd., India’s s state-owned gas utility and a large energy importer, signed an agreement Thursday with global energy trader EDF Trading to acquire and develop oil and gas assets in North America.

“The advent of shale gas in the U.S. bodes very well for the global hydrocarbon landscape, and this partnership is expected to look for business opportunities in this exciting space in order to enhance the oil and gas sourcing prospects for India,” said M Veerappa Moily, India’s minister of petroleum and natural gas.

“There are significant opportunities in the North American gas markets, and we are pleased to be partnering with GAIL, one of the world’s leading gas companies, in jointly developing this business,” said John Rittenhouse, CEO of EDF Trading, which is a subsidiary of the French utility EDF.

EDF Trading North America is the fifth largest natural gas marketer by volume on the continent, trading 7.61 Bcf/d in the third quarter of 2012, according to NGI‘s survey of the Top North American Gas Marketers.

Prior to its hookup with GAIL, EDF’s latest North American foray came in January when the company said it would acquire a Midwest commercial and industrial natural gas portfolio from ConocoPhillips, which sells nearly 50 BCF of gas per year to 200 commercial and industrial customers.

Gail earlier had agreed to buy 3.5 million metric tons per year from the second phase of Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass Liquefaction project in Cameron Parish, LA (see Daily GPI, Dec. 13, 2011). Sabine Pass so far is the only U.S. LNG export facility with permission to export to the world market.

At the time, GAIL said it had established an office in Houston and would be looking for shale gas assets in the U.S. The company already owns a 20% stake in Carrizo Oil & Gas Inc.’s 20,200 net acre position in the Eagle Ford Shale.

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