LONDON, Jan. 11 (UPI) -- French energy giant Total is expected to announce Monday a major investment in British shale gas, the BBC reported Saturday.
The BBC said it had confirmed that Total would be the first major oil company to announce a commitment to the controversial method of gas extraction called fracking in Britain, where the British Geological Survey has estimated a supply of 1,300 trillion cubic feet of shale gas exist, mostly in northern England.
Total is expected to announce it will spend "tens of millions of pounds," the BBC said. The company will invest in companies that already have licenses to drill in the area.
The companies Centrica and Gaz de France have made investments in the area.
While the method of extraction called hydraulic fracturing or fracking, has attracted protests, Prime Minister David Cameron has endorsed the method, which he says will spur the economy and lower the fuel bills throughout the country.
It is estimated that Britain's supply of shale gas could provide for the entire country's gas needs for 50 years.
The method, which involves applying pressure to underground shale formations by pumping in a mixture of water, sand and chemicals, is opposed by many environmental groups that fear the technique will pollute irreplaceable water supplies.