Cuadrilla has announced that it to begin fracking at its Preston New Road site in Lancashire, where work has been dogged by protests.
The shale firm confirmed hydraulic fracturing process will take approximately three months to complete for two horizontal exploration wells.
Cuadrilla added the the fracking for shale will take place more than 1.2 miles below the surface and will “release the natural gas in the shale to flow up the wellbore to the surface”.
Any gas discovered will be tested over six months with flow results expected in the New year.
Francis Egan, CEO of Cuadrilla, said: “The start of hydraulic fracturing is the final milestone in the journey to assessing the flow rates of natural gas from our Lancashire shale exploration wells. On completion of hydraulic fracturing and commencement of gas flow, we expect to have, in the first quarter of next year, an initial assessment of how much natural gas is likely to be recoverable from these first Lancashire shale wells.
“This will allow us to make an assessment of the commercial viability and future of this exploration site. Lancashire has benefited to date from over £11 million of investment generated by our exploration operations. This investment will grow very significantly if we move from exploration into commercial production.”
In July, Cuadrilla issued a statement warning those planning to take part in a planned protest at its Lancashire site that a High Court injunction was in place.
The company also issued a reminder to the group Reclaim the Power that “anyone planning to follow this direct action” should recognise the 1 June 2018 injunction relating to Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site.
Cuadrilla put out a further warning reiterating that the injunction “prohibits direct action such as blockades, lorry climbs or against named suppliers to Cuadrilla”.
Last week, four members of a campaign group were sentenced to lengthy jail terms for climbing on lorries and refusing to dismount.