The large shale gas deposit around Blackpool is 50pc bigger than previously estimated, a report by the British Geological Survey is expected to show.
The shale gas drill site in Singleton, Blackpool Photo: © Alamy
The report, due out in the new year, will say that the Bowland Basin to the east of Blackpool contains 300 trillion cubic feet of gas, The Times reported.
Last year, the shale exploration company Cuadrilla estimated there were 200 trillion cubic feet of gas in the Basin.
The latest figure is the equivalent of 17 times the known reserves of the North Sea.
The British Geological Survey is reviewing the UK’s shale gas deposits and is expected to publish its findings next year.
Last week, George Osborne, the Chancellor, said shale gas could make a significant contribution to the UK’s gas supply by the 2020s, with early production likely to start after 2015.
Mr Osborne said the Government is looking at tax breaks to spur development of shale in the UK, and that the development of the industry would be overseen by a new Office for Unconventional Gas and Oil.
Cuadrilla started exploratory drilling at the Blackpool site in 2011, but after the work was found to be the cause of two small earthquakes in the area, the Government suspended all “fracking”, or hydraulic fracturing, the process by which shale gas is extracted.
However the company is expected to get permission to restart work this month.
The new Office for Unconventional Gas and Oil will be responsible for regulating shale exploration, and will make sure “regulation is safe but simple”, according to Mr Osborne.
Announcing its gas strategy alongside the Autumn Statement last week, the Government also increased its estimates for the amount of power produced by gas-fired power stations that will be needed by 2030.
As much as 26 gigawatts of new gas capacity may be needed, up from previous estimated of between 10 and 20 gigawatts, the Department for Energy and Climate Change said.