LONDON, May 22 (UPI) -- Natural gas coaxed from British shale deposits is likely not the game-changer once expected for the country's energy sector, officials say.
Cuadrilla Resources announced last year that it voluntarily halted shale gas extraction at a site in northwest England because of small tremors reported in the area near its operations.
British energy officials, however, had said that with strict environmental rules already in place in the country, there is no need for a moratorium on shale gas operations.
British newspaper The Independent, however, reports that British officials were told by industry leaders that shale natural gas reserves in the country were less than anticipated.
"The reserves aren't absolutely huge compared with the likes of America, Ukraine and North Africa," a senior government official said on condition of anonymity. "And we are relatively densely populated. It is a question of how much we can get out, and at what cost. There is a not-insignificant amount of domestic supply, but not a game-changing amount."
Shale natural gas reserves are revolutionizing the energy sectors of some countries. Critics of the extraction process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, have expressed concern that some of the chemicals used in the process could harm the environment.
"The shale gas bubble has burst," said Greenpeace campaigner Joss Garman. "Despite all the hype, even the energy companies now acknowledge shale gas isn't the answer to Britain's energy needs."