Today, 10 minutes before the opening bell, it was announced that Total (NYSE: TOT), the fifth largest international integrated oil and gas company, will purchase a 50% stake in IDT’s American Shale Oil, LLC (AMSO) subsidiary.

AMSO is one of three holders of 10-year leases granted by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to assess, test and demonstrate the potential for commercial shale oil production in western Colorado. After AMSO has proven that its technology is economically viable and environmentally acceptable, it will be given the opportunity to expand its lease to 5,120 acres for commercial development. The rights covered by the commercial preference lease are estimated to contain multi billion barrels of recoverable shale oil.

Our investment in AMSO furthers our commitment to developing unconventional hydrocarbons,” stated Yves-Louis Darricarrere Total’s E&P President. “Given the magnitude of oil shale resources we believe that this project has an important long-term potential for global energy markets. AMSO has a strongly skilled technical team, as well as interesting original ideas. We look forward to working with them to develop sustainable and environmentally responsible extraction and processing technologies.”

“We are extremely pleased to partner with Total, one of the largest and most technologically sophisticated oil and gas companies in the world,” commented Howard Jonas, IDT’s Chairman and AMSO’s Chairman and CEO. “Total complements our team’s technical capabilities with unparalleled expertise and depth in a variety of petroleum research and production disciplines. We particularly value their dedication to finding an approach to oil shale production that respects the unique environment of western Colorado.”