The French energy giant has agreed to acquire a 25% stake in 13 licences in Cheshire and the East Midlands of England from Dart Energy in a $39 million (£24m) deal that shows faith in the potential of shale gas.
"We are very confident about the potential of shale gas in the UK, and its anticipated contributions to UK energy security," said Jean-Marie Dauger, the executive vice-president who heads GDF Suez's global gas business.
GDF Suez, which has extensive investments in the North Sea, said it plans to drill up to four wells targeting shale gas potential in England's Bowland basin with Dart Energy.
The companies will also drill 10 wells targeting Coal Bed Methane on the licences.
Dart Energy's plans to extract methane gas from coal beds in central Scotland have faced public opposition.
This summer Cuadrilla Resources came under fire for its plans to explore for shale gas in Sussex.
Opponents claim the use of fracking (hydraulic fracturing) to release tightly held gas from shale could damage the environment.
The practice was banned in France in 2011.
Asked whether GDF Suez might use fracking in the UK, a spokesperson for its exploration and production arm said: "There are a number of techniques that could be used in the UK to explore for unconventional gas resources.
"As a partner to operator Dart Energy, we will ensure that industry best practice is applied to the preparation and execution of the exploration programme, notably in terms of safety as well as protection of people and the environment."
The spokesperson added: "In all of our operations we are committed to engaging with the local community."
In June Centrica, which owns Scottish Gas, agreed to invest up to £160m in attempts to exploit shale gas resources on a licence in Lancashire held by Cuadrilla.