The UK government has announced the findings of an independent study conducted by the British Geological Survey (BGS), which estimates a volume of 1,300 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of shale gas in the Bowland Basin and beyond covering 11 counties in northern England.

BGS said the estimation does not confirm that all the volume of shale gas in the area can be extracted.

The report, however, will give the industry and regulators an indication on future exploratory drilling to determine how much of the gas would be commercially recovered.

UK Energy Minister Michael Fallon said shale gas is a new potential energy resource for the country and could be an important part in its energy mix.

"The next step for industry is to establish how much gas is technically and commercially recoverable," Fallon added.

"With the package announced today on planning, environmental regulations, and community benefits, it is clear that we want to encourage a shale industry that is safe and that doesn’t damage the environment."

Shale gas development is in its early stages in the UK, but 176 licenses are already issued for onshore oil and gas exploration.