LANCASHIRE has been touted as the potential capital of the European shale gas industry – if all goes to plan.
Shale gas company Cuadrilla Resources this week began its in-depth geo-physical survey of the Fylde coast, which it hopes will reveal substantial gas reserves deep underground.
The survey is key to helping the company establish whether to press ahead with commercial drilling in the area, though Cuadrilla has stressed it will not be the only factor in its decision.
According to the company, that outcome could bring hundreds of local jobs and see millions of pounds pumped into the local economy, and one of Cuadrilla’s directors, Lord Browne, has said Lancashire has “huge potential”.
He told reporters: “Lancashire has huge potential.
“If they had the will they could perhaps become the centre of shale gas for Europe, much as Aberdeen became the centre of oil and gas for Europe.”
The next three months will see Cuadrilla’s workers surveying the area, using large vibrating trucks and small underground explosions, in a bid to find out if it does have that potential.
The survey has begun to the north east of Singleton, and will cover an area heading up to just south of Great Eccleston, across to the countryside south of Poulton, and down through Lytham and St Annes to the Warton area. The company has stressed the survey is “research” and areas surveyed will not necessarily become home to wells.
A spokesman said: “The principle of the survey is to give us a good amount of data to get an understanding of the rock underground.
“If it proves economically viable to go into production that information will enable us to see areas with a good concentration of shale rock.
“The important thing to remember is just because we identify locations which are best for well sites, it doesn’t mean a well site will be placed there because it would require the full planning process for each site individually and a licence to go into production.”
Cuadrilla remains in the “exploratory” phase, with three exploratory drilling sites in Singleton, Weeton and Westby, but fracking is currently suspended after a series of earth tremors struck last year.
If they decide to go ahead, it is expected to be at least 18 months before Cuadrilla identify commercial well sites.