Energy Minister Michael Fallon has said that 30 to 40 shale gas wells could be drilled in the UK over the next two years.
He added that a study carried out over the summer had revealed that there were two or three times more shale gas reserves in the UK, than previously thought.
It would be ‘irresponsible’ not to grant exploratory licences to companies looking to extract this energy, he said.
‘There is shale pretty well everywhere’
Speaking on BBC Radio 4, Fallon said: “Well there is shale pretty well everywhere. There’s an awful lot of it in the north – in Lancashire and Yorkshire and Cheshire, but there’s also an awful lot in the south, there’s some in Scotland, some in Wales.
“We are sitting on top of an awful lot of shale, so I don’t think colleagues can be picky about this and say they’re not going have it in their constituencies. The key is to have it licensed and regulated properly, with the proper series of permits and permissions to make sure it’s absolutely safe and that’s the job the developers and the government have to get on with.”
Extracting shale gas ‘doesn’t have to involve fracking’
With regards to future of shale gas extraction in the UK, Fallon expects a “couple of years of exploration.” He said there were currently about a dozen energy companies across England searching for shale gas deposits.
In his opinion, 30 to 40 wells will be drilled in the next couple of years, as companies try to work out the nation’s shale gas potential. This involves determining how easy and cost effective it is to extract the gas.
He added that extraction would not exclusively be done through fracking : “When talking about shale gas, it doesn’t have to involve fracking, some of it will just be core drilling.”