Denmark's energy regulator said it had told Total to suspend exploration drilling at the country's first shale prospect a day after it began because the French energy giant had used a chemical not approved under an environmental plan.
Total ceased drilling on the northern tip of Jutland on Wednesday after using a defoamer called Nullfoam, which had not been listed in an environmental impact assessment plan approved by local authorities, the Danish Energy Agency (DEA) said.
The suspension was another setback for Total's shale plans after it exited its Polish licences last month, suffered protests over its Danish prospect and endured a ban on hydraulic fracturing in its home country.
The website of the Total unit in charge of the project said drilling had only begun on Monday. The DEA, which is part of the energy ministry, said Total was told to stop on Tuesday.
It was unclear when the French company could resume operations; it needs to explain its actions to the local authority that approved its impact assessment plan first.
Henrik Nicolaisen, project manager of Total Denmark, told local media the defoamer was not mentioned in its planning because its use protects workers. The company was not immediately available for comment.
State-owned The North Sea Fund has a 20 percent stake in the project. The Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland estimates Denmark's shale gas potential to be the fourth largest in Europe at 644 billion cubic metres.
(Reporting by Sabina Zawadzki in Copenhagen; and Nerijus Adomaitis in Oslo; Editing by Mark Heinrich)