July 28 (UPI) -- With its drilling rig on site, a British shale gas explorer said it expects to address offshore production declines with onshore operations by year's end.
Cuadrilla Resources said the drilling rig used to tap wells at a shale basin have arrived at their destination in Lancashire.
"With the decline of North Sea gas and our ever increasing reliance on gas imports, including shale gas imported from the United States, developing an indigenous source of natural gas is critical for U.K. energy security, our economy, jobs and the environment," Cuadrilla CEO Francis Egan said in a statement. "We are proud as a Lancashire company to be at the forefront of that effort."
The British government estimates shale basins in the country may hold more than 1.3 quadrillion cubic feet of natural gas, a level the government said could help an economy with natural gas imports on pace to increase from 45 percent of demand in 2011 to 76 percent by 2030.
The British Geological Survey started environmental surveys in Lancashire ahead of Cuadrilla's efforts in order to set a baseline for water and air quality, as well as seismic activity. Cuadrilla was the target of widespread protests from opponents of hydraulic fracturing, though the British government last year sided in favor of oil and gas companies, issuing a 600-page ruling that said shale natural gas work in the country was a national interest.
Shale natural gas development is in its infancy in the country, though the British government moved to fast-track the permit process, saying local councils were dragging their feet. Cuadrilla said there is no benchmark yet for drilling into shale basins.
"There is no precedent in the United Kingdom on how long the horizontal wells through the shale will take to drill, however Cuadrilla currently estimates these will be completed before the end of 2017," Egan said.
Cuadrilla has permission to drill four wells, but will proceed with only two this year.