Egan said gas from shale deposits in the country could start flowing through the nation's transmission system by the end of next year, albeit at low volumes.
"After the initial flow test period, which is up to 90 days, if the flow rates look good then we would want to tie the well into the gas transmission system and flow it for a longer period to assess the flow rate over 18 to 24 months," he said Sunday.
The company was the target of major demonstrations last summer when its work in the southern village of Balcombe was viewed as a prelude to hydraulic fracturing, known also as fracking.
In January, Cuadrilla sent a letter to village residents saying it was applying for an extension to a license for exploration in the area but found natural fractures in Balcombe's shale that may prohibit fracking.
In March, the company said it believes there are 200 trillion cubic feet of shale natural gas in the Bowland basin in Lancashire.