The British Geological Survey last year estimated the Bowland shale formation in the north of the country contains 1.3 quadrillion cubic feet of natural gas. The government says shale could ensure energy security for a country where net natural gas imports are on pace to increase from 45 percent of demand in 2011 to 76 percent by 2030.
A report from BGS, which the Sunday Telegraph says is expected later this week, may suggest shale could provide a source of major economic stimulus, though the nation's energy sector lacks the workforce and the equipment to adequately develop the reserves.
British energy companies Cuadrilla Resources and IGas are frontiers in shale development in the country.
Sam Laidlaw, chief executive officer at British energy company Centrica, told the audience at the CERAWeek energy conference in Houston last month the vast deposits of shale gas in the country could make a significant contribution to the future British energy mix, though the industry is in its infancy.