But the statement by Australian firm AJ Lucas has been condemned by anti-fracking campaigners who say that given a minister’s claim last week that the Government had “moved on” over fracking, it was a forlorn hope.
The oil and gas exploration firm said: “The UK Government’s position remains unchanged since November 2019. During the moratorium AJ Lucas and other UK shale gas companies continue to work constructively together and with independent scientific experts with the objective of gathering and presenting appropriate scientific evidence to demonstrate that future shale gas appraisal and commercialization operations can be safely conducted.
“Lucas expects the moratorium to be lifted and exploration to resume once appropriate measures are agreed and put in place to manage and mitigate risks from induced seismicity. However, we would not expect that decision to occur before 2021.”
Claire Stephenson from Frack Free Lancashire said the statement would not appease investors.
She said: “We already know we’re in the midst of an indisputable climate crisis and that as Lancashire has proved, the geology in the UK is beyond incompatible for fracking. Let alone public opinion is firmly and strongly against this dirty fossil fuel technique.
“Only this week, a study by the State University of New York, showed that fracking and the PM2 particle pollution it produced, has been directly attributed to at least 20 deaths in Pennsylvania.
“Ministers should recognise the benefits of clean and renewable energy opportunities, especially in the recovery from COVID-19, and leave toxic fracking in the past, where it belongs.”
Last week energy minister Kwasi Kwarteng, unveiling a cryogenic battery plant in Manchester, said that fracking was “over” and the government had “moved on”.
Susan Holliday, of Preston New Road Action Group said: “This is positive news for communities that have been living under the cloud of fracking.
We have always believed that the science did not support it, and it seems that the government are coming to that view too.
"Cuadrilla should now restore the site at Preston New Road so that our community can put the nightmare of fracking behind us.”