* New shale gas reserves estimate could exceed 260 bcm
* Estimates could move UK ahead of Poland's shale reserves
(Recasts, adds detail, background)
By Karolin Schaps and Henning Gloystein
LONDON, April 2 British shale gas company IGas
has more than doubled its estimate of gas in place at
its site in north-west England and started the search for an
experienced partner after being approached by various companies,
its chief executive said.
The company said on Monday it was likely to at least double
previous shale gas estimates of up to 4.6 trillion cubic feet
(130.26 million cubic metres), which would boost Britain's
reserves to levels above Poland's, until now the focus of the
shale gas industry in Europe.
"When you combine our estimates with Cuadrilla's flow
results, you're looking at probably a shale that's going to be
better than what has been seen in Europe, definitely better than
Poland," Andrew Austin, CEO of IGas, said.
Cuadrilla Resources suspended fracking in May 2011 at a site
near Blackpool after its fracking operations caused tremors in
the nearby area.
Austin said that IGas was now looking for a partner to
further develop its shale gas resources.
"Following a number of enquiries from interested parties, we
are now launching a process to engage a suitable farm-in partner
to participate in drilling further wells to corroborate these
results and to develop our shale resource."
Austin said IGas would produce gas only if it could be done
"in a way that's acceptable" to the local community.
UK MOVES UP SHALE RANKS
The future of shale gas exploration in Europe is unclear
because of environmental concerns and lack of regulatory
In March, Poland slashed its shale gas reserves to 346-768
billion bcm, some 90 percent lower than previous estimates.
These figures knocked Poland out of the top 20 countries
with the highest shale gas reserves and put it behind other
European countries such as France, Norway, Ukraine and Sweden.
Previously the EIA had ranked Poland at 11th globally, ahead of
Figures for Britain were not yet available for publication
in this ranking, but should IGas's new estimates of over 260 bcm
of reserves prove accurate, its combined potential with
Cuadrilla would probably push Britain's reserves ahead of
The UK government expects to make an announcement on whether
Cuadrilla can resume fracking in due course, a spokesman for the
Department of Energy and Climate Change said.
In continental Europe, France and Bulgaria both put a
moratorium on shale gas exploration in 2011 citing environmental
(editing by Jane Baird)