LONDON, March 31 (Reuters) - UK shale gas explorer IGas Energy said it had encountered parts of the promising Sabden and Bowland Shale formations in its drilling programme at Barton Moss, near Manchester in northern England.
Samples taken from the drilling programme will be analysed over the coming six months before the exploration firm will decide how to proceed, the company said.
IGas also said it was in the process of acquiring around 100 square kilometres of 3D seismic data in the north west of the country to determine where else to drill for shale gas.
"These early exploration results are key to our understanding of the potential resource in the area," said Chief Executive Andrew Austin.
Britain is counting on the development of potentially substantial shale gas resources to help it stem a rise in dependence on gas imports as production from the mature North Sea basin is declining. (Reporting by Karolin Schaps; editing by Kate Holton)