Cuadrilla Chief Executive Officer Francis Egan said the next step for the Bowland shale basin in Lancashire was to determine how much gas is feasibly recoverable.
The company said it was waiting until 2014, however, to continue work in Lanchashire, first finishing environmental impact assessments at existing and planned sites for hydraulic fracturing.
"We recognize that within the complex U.K. regulatory framework governing planning this process can prove lengthy but we are determined to spare no effort in meeting our exploration targets in an environmentally and socially sustainable manner," Egan said in a statement.
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, of shale deposits was halted after Cuadrilla in 2011 reported minor tremors associated with its natural gas operations in the country. London last year lifted the fracking ban as it enacted a risk-control measure based on a "traffic light" system.
Egan said the timeline for drilling "underlines our firm commitment to completing the exploration program of this major natural gas discovery in a safe, responsible and timely manner."