Total, the fifth largest oil and gas company in the world, has signed a deal with Central Petroleum to explore for shale gas in central Australia.
Total said on Tuesday the four exploration permits cover about 25,000 km in the South Georgina Basin.
AAP reports three permit areas are in Queensland and one is in the Northern Territory.
Under the agreement, Total, the world's fifth largest oil and gas company, has the potential to hold up to 68% equity after completing three exploration stages.
At the end of the exploration stages, Total will operate 90% of the acreage and Central will be responsible for 10%.
AAP reports the agreement is subject to regulatory approval in Queensland and Northern Territory and also from the Foreign Investment Review Board.
Total has interests in seven offshore exploration licences in the Browse and Bonaparte basins.