Ministers were considering steps that could lead to a fracking rethink in the UK after committing to phasing out imports of Russian oil by the end of the year.

Boris Johnson said on Tuesday the move over Moscow’s oil was an important “first step” to “punish” Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine as substitute fuels are lined up.

Amid concerns over soaring energy costs, it was understood two Cuadrilla sites in Preston New Road in Lancashire may be handed over to the Royal Geographical Society rather than being concreted over.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, has been under a “moratorium” for over two years but the move could allow for the sites to be opened up at a later date.

Former Cabinet minister Lord Frost, who has been campaigning for the ban to be reversed, said it was a “sensible first step” from the Government.

Robert Jenrick, a former communities secretary, called for a “more pragmatic energy policy” that would ease soaring bills while the UK strives to hit net zero.

He told BBC Newsnight: “I personally was always a supporter of fracking, I don’t think it’s a quick fix, but I think we should be revisiting that question."

As recently as Monday Downing Street had denied suggestions the fracking moratorium could be lifted in response to the Ukraine crisis.

And energy minister Lord Callanan warned of “severe environmental problems” with shale gas production, adding that “Lancashire is not Texas”, being much more heavily populated.

The moratorium was imposed on fracking in November 2019 after it caused two minor earthquakes in Lancashire.

Last month, energy company Cuadrilla said the UK Government’s Oil and Gas Authority(OGA) had ordered the two horizontal shale wells in Lancashire to be filled and abandoned.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said the move to phase out Russian oil products by the end of the year will “ensure a smooth transition so that consumers will not be affected”.

He pledged to establish a new taskforce to help firms find “alternative supplies”.

The Prime Minister said Britain could not “move overnight”, with the UK particularly exposed on imports of diesel from Russia.

“But we can certainly do it and we can do it in a way that doesn’t disrupt supply, that ensures we have substitute supplies on stream in an orderly way and in a timetable that won’t affect UK business, won’t affect UK manufacturing, road haulage or other parts of our industry, but will punish the regime of Vladimir Putin,” Mr Johnson told broadcasters.

A spokesperson for Frack Free Lancashire said: "Certain politicians and climate change deniers are trying to use the desperate situation in Ukraine to galvanise the twitching corpse of UK fracking. It is really shocking that they should try to use the immense suffering of an entire nation in this way. 

“The Government has been clear that fracking must not be allowed to restart unless the companies involved are able to demonstrate conclusively that they can control the risks associated with seismicity. They simply cannot do this. 

“At the same time, there is a growing wave of people who have lined up to tell us that UK fracking will not reduce energy prices and will not have a material impact on supply levels.

"These include Government spokesmen, Lord Browne the ex-chair of Cuadrilla, and Iain Conn, ex-chief executive of Cuadrilla Investor, Centrica, who stated this week that it won’t be 'possible to drill enough wells to be able to make a material difference to the UK's supplies'.

“Fracking is dead. Let it rest in peace.”

US President Joe Biden ordered a ban on Russian oil imports, while the European Union was also expected to announce a phasing out.

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and No 10 are yet to comment on the fracking move.