DRILLING company Cuadrilla will not be revising the estimate of shale gas in Lancashire upwards.

A geologist with the company had told the Shale UK conference, in London, that there could be almost twice as much shale gas in Lancashire than previously thought.

But a Cuadrilla spokesperson said: “Cuadrilla has always said that we believe our licence contains at least 200Tcf of gas in place.

“We are not proposing to revise that estimate upwards notwithstanding the understandable enthusiasm of our geologist.

“The key next step remains to drill, hydraulically fracture and test the rate of gas flow from a number of exploration wells, so we can start assessing how much of that huge quantity of gas in the ground can be safely and sensibly recovered for use in UK homes and businesses.

“We are progressing our plans to do just that.”

Huw Clarke told the Shale UK conference, in London, that there were 330 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas in place in its licence area.

Based on data from two wells that it had fracked in 2011, Cuadrilla estimated that there were around 200 tcf in its licence area.

Fracking has been hailed as having the potential to create new jobs by unlocking millions of tons of shale gas lying underneath Lancashire.

A map showing areas where fracking could take place has highlighted possible options along the M65 corridor north of Blackburn through Burnley to Colne and the Rossendale Valley.

Mike Damms, chief executive of East Lancashire Ch-amber of Commerce, has backed economics professors Jim Taylor, Alasdair MacBean and Robert Rothschild, of Lancaster University, calling on politicians to stop using fracking as a ‘political football’, and work towards safely developing it as an alternative energy source.

However, concerns have been raised about possible negative effects it could have on the environment, and water supply.

Cuadrilla is looking to expand its operation in Lancashire, announcing recently that it was seeking planning permission for two new sites at Roseacre Wood and Preston New Road on the Fylde coast.

It plans to drill and hydraulically fracture four exploration wells at each site.

In January, Cuadrilla announced that Lancashire com-munities where it drills for shale gas will get £100,000 each to spend on local projects.