A University study has suggested that the reserves of frackable gas beneath the county may be much less than previously estimated.
The research, published in Nature Communications, by the University of Nottingham used a new technique to test shale rocks from Cuadrilla’s abandoned Grange Hill site.
The report concluded previous estimates of enough gas to satisfy UK consumption for 50 years were “an order of magnitude” out and the reality was more likely to be less than 10 years of current UK gas consumption.
But the shale gas industry has hit back with Ken Cronin, chief executive of UK Onshore Oil and Gas saying it was a limited study and Cuadrilla saying only by carrying out test fracking will true results be seen.
Mr Cronin said: “Nottingham in their research have analysed a limited amount of core from one Bowland shale well drilled in 2011.
“The industry is currently in the process of exploration in various parts of the Bowland Shale to test the geology and whether the gas will flow commercially.
"This involves 3D seismic surveying, core drilling, hydraulic fracturing and flow testing. To date we have made significant advancements in the understanding of the resource potential contained within UK shale, with very encouraging results seen at both Springs Road and Preston New Road which have demonstrated properties in line with world class, US shale plays.”
Chief Executive of Cuadrilla, Francis Egan, said: “Those involved in publishing this should be embarrassed. We hold more data and technical experience of the Bowland Shale than anyone else in the UK yet not once did anyone from this research group or Nottingham University contact us for our view or input."
However, campaign group Frack Free Lancashire said shale gas was not viable in the UK and, as another source of fossil fuels which could add to global warming, should not continue.
A spokesman said: “We note with interest, this latest study which suggests that the Bowland Shale reserves have been greatly overestimated, with less than 10 years of shale gas available.
"This is a huge difference from the original estimates and calls into question the commercial viability of the entire project.
“Do residents really have to suffer the impacts of fracking for something that appears barely worth attempting to extract?"