Toreador, a company with interests in oil properties in France, and Hess, an integrated energy company with headquarters in New York, have signed a definitive agreement, under which Hess may become co-holder of Toreador’s exploration permits in the Paris Basin, France, which represent approximately 1 million gross acres (of which 680,000 acres awarded and 360,000 acres pending).

The partnership combines Toreador’s position covering the Paris Basin shale oil resource with Hess’ position as a shale oil producer in the US along with its international operating and financial strengths, according to the companies.

Greg Hill, president of worldwide exploration and production at Hess said: “We are very pleased to join Toreador in France. The technology we use to produce oil in US unconventional plays will have a direct application to the Paris Basin. Hess views this opportunity as an area of future growth for Hess, our partner and the industry in France.”

Under the terms of the agreement, Hess will make a $15m upfront payment and invest up to $120m in fulfillment of a two phase work program. Phase 1 will consist of an evaluation of the acreage and drilling six wells, with the first well planned for later this year.

Depending on the results of Phase 1, Phase 2 is expected to consist of appraisal and development activities. Following Phase 2, provided contractual obligations have been met, Hess will hold a 50% share of Toreador’s working interest in the covered permits.

The transaction is subject to French governmental approval.