Fracking firms are expected to drill up to 68 new shale gas wells in England over the next five years and to frack at least 14 of them, under plans unveiled on Thursday.
Ministers confirmed they would award rights to companies to explore for oil and gas across 5,000 square miles of England, in addition to 1,000 square miles they awarded in the summer.
Of the 6,000 square miles total, roughly 75 per cent of the licences relate to shale exploration, the Oil & Gas Authority said.
The OGA also divulged for the first time the exploration companies have pledged to undertake within the next five years in order to secure the rights.
These include firm plans to drill 33 new shale wells – 14 of which will be fracked – and the potential to drill a further 35 new shale wells.
Andrea Leadsom, the energy minister said the Government wanted to “get shale gas moving”.
“Last month we set out the vital role gas will play in the UK’s transition to a low-carbon future. The licences offered today move us a step closer – driving forwards this industry which will provide secure, home grown energy to hardworking families and businesses for decades to come,” she said.
“Now is the time to press ahead and get exploration underway so that we can determine how much shale gas there is and how much we can use.”