Europe must not let old regulations hold it back from drilling for shale gas, Prime Minister David Cameron has said.
Mr Cameron said that while companies were drilling 10,000 wells for shale gas every year in the United States, there were fewer than 100 new explorations for shale in Europe every year.
Speaking in the Commons following an EU summit in Brussels last month, Mr Cameron said shale must be extracted safely but at present there are too many regulations designed to safeguard against the extraction of other natural resources.
He said: “We put down a marker to get rid of unnecessary regulation in making the most of indigenous resources such as shale gas.
“Europe has three-quarters as much shale as the United States and yet while the Americans are drilling 10,000 wells a year, we in Europe are drilling fewer than 100.
“We must extract shale in a safe and sustainable manner but we have got to do more to ensure that old rules designed for different technologies do not hold us back today.”
Mr Cameron said it was important to stop the EU making new regulations that could inhibit shale gas drilling.
“I think it’s important that we make sure Europe doesn’t make the situation worse with new regulation that could stop the exploitation of shale gas, that was part of what we discussed at the European Council,” the Prime Minister said.
“But also there is an opportunity to get cheaper supplies of energy if we can increase competition within the single market and that should be the aim of our policy.”
Meanwhile, an energy firm involved in controversial shale gas fracking has revealed it is sitting on up to 19 times more gas than previously thought.
IGas said it may have up to 172.3 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of gas in a 300-square mile area in Cheshire it holds licences over.
That compares with its previous estimate of about nine trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
That brings the London-based group closer to its rival Cuadrilla Resources – which has around 200 trillion cubic feet of gas under the ground in the area.
Cuadrilla has been involved in exploratory activities at a number of sites on the Fylde coast including Singleton and Westby.