The first natural gas flow has been produced at the earthquake-hit fracking site in Lancashire.
Energy firm Cuadrilla announced there was ‘the potential of future gas recovery’ at the site, where operations restarted two weeks ago.
The news comes after dozens of earthquakes that have stopped work on several occasions.
‘This is a good early indication of the gas potential that we have long talked about,’ Cuadrilla Chief Executive Francis Egan said.
The news from the Preston New Road site comes amid the controversial return to fracking in the UK by the group.
Campaigners lost an 11th hour High Court challenge and the firm started again on October 16th.
Two days later, earthquakes started and since then there have been 33 quakes, including three that reached levels where drilling operations had to stop.
On Monday, the quake reached 1.1 on the Richter Scale in what was described as a ‘microseismic event’ which was felt by residents.
Fracking, or Hydraulic Fracturing, involves pumping vast quantities of water and chemicals into unstable rock to release combustible gas.
Drilling for shale gas is still at an exploratory phase.
However, reserves of shale gas have been identified across large swathes of the UK, particularly in northern England.
More than 100 licences have been awarded by the government, allowing firms to pursue a range of oil and gas exploration activities in certain areas.
A government-appointed panel said there could be more tremors as a result of fracking, but they would be too small to do structural damage above ground.
The UK operates a traffic light system, which calls for any fracking to be paused if any tremor of magnitude 0.5 or above is detected.
Cuadrilla said it plans to fully test flow rates from the current two exploration wells towards the end of 2018 and into the New Year to determine whether full-scale gas extraction would be viable.
Fracking is opposed by environmentalists and green groups who say extracting more fossil fuel is at odds with Britain’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
But Britain’s government is supportive of the industry and is keen to reduce the country’s reliance on imports of natural gas, which is used to heat around 80 percent of Britain’s homes.
When Theresa May came to power, she announced householders living near shale wells would enjoy a ‘frackpot’ payout of up to £10,000 each.
The British Geological Survey estimates shale gas resources in northern England alone could contain 1,300 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas, 10 percent of which could meet the country’s demand for almost 40 years.
Cuadrilla which is 47.4 percent owned by Australia’s AJ Lucas and 45.2 percent owned by a fund managed by Riverstone, first extracted shale gas in England near the coastal town of Blackpool in the northwest in 2011.
However it was stopped for seven years after causing a 2.3 magnitude earth tremor.
During that time, an angry debate raged over the practice with local residents and environmental campaigners fighting against Cuadrilla’s plan to restart their Lancashire operations.
Lancashire County Council had also been opposed to the plan but the government forced permission through.
Last month, Cuadrilla fought off an 11th hour legal challenge brought by a retired Lancashire businessman, Bob Bennett and fracking restarted within days.
Earlier this week, the energy firm called on the government to relax the traffic light regulatory system to allow it to stop having to halt work when an earthquake reaches 0.5 magnitude.
Mr Egan said the rules meant the government risked ‘strangling’ the industry before it was even born.
However so far the government has refused.