The British government last week said it would offer tax credits to companies examining the potential for natural gas development onshore. The government has warmed to shale natural gas reserves amid renewed assessments of the Bowland license area in the northwest of the country.
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, uses large volumes of water to crack open shale formations underground to release trapped natural gas. An unnamed spokeswoman for United Utilities said the company was in early talks with Cuadrilla about its water needs.
"We are having very early engagement with Cuadrilla to try to understand their requirements," the spokeswoman was quoted as saying Saturday by The Daily Telegraph. "The fact that we are a large landowner in the northwest means we could possibly help with site selection."
Critics of fracking have expressed concern about the potential for groundwater contamination from fracking campaigns. United Utilities said public health is a "top priority."
The British Geological Survey in June estimated the Bowland shale formation in the north contains 1.3 quadrillion cubic feet of natural gas, twice what was previously estimated.