Shale gas reserves underground Lancashire could be much larger than expected.
New surveys show there could be trillions more cubic feet of the unconventional gas between Wrexham and Blackpool in the west and Nottingham and Scarborough in the east.
The news comes in the wake of Chancellor George Osborne’s reiteration that shale gas explorers in the UK will get tax support in the Treasury’s Spending Review earlier this week.
Research by the British Geological Survey with DECC estimates there could be as much as 2281 trillion cubic feet with lower estimates of 822 trillion cubic feet.
This shale gas estimate represents the gas the BGS thinks is present but not the gas that might be possible to extract.
The first two firms to begin drilling in the region have received a hostile welcome from some local groups and since 2011 contended with fears raised when a small earthquake rocked Blackpool.
Yesterday the Government put forward plans for drillers to give £100,000 to local communities near every exploratory well which is ‘fracked’ and more engagement with communities before any application for planning permission.
Cuadrilla Resources’ chief executive Francis Egan committed to giving local communities 1% of their revenues from each site which produces shale gas. He said: “With success, this should amount to millions of pounds per individual production site”.
Energy Minister Michael Fallon welcomed the commitments: “From money off bills, playgrounds, sports halls or regeneration schemes, people will see real and local advantages from shale gas production in their area.”
He added the “next step” for industry is to work out how much gas is technically and commercially recoverable.