UK shale gas company Cuadrilla will ask for extra time to drill for shale gas at its Lancashire fracking site after its November deadline.
Within the next month the fracking pioneer will ask Lancashire county council for permission to continue its drilling campaign until at least the spring of 2021.
The company restarted work at the Preston New Road site only last month in an 11th-hour bid before its licence expires in November.
Francis Egan, the chief executive of Cuadrilla, said the company will ask to tweak the licence terms to allow for more time following months of delays to its drilling campaign.
He said the application would not seek to change the scope of its work or the requirement for the site to be shut down and restored by April 2023.
The company has made slow progress because existing rules mean frackers must halt all work if their activities cause an earth tremor which registers a magnitude of 0.5 or higher.
Cuadrilla is the only shale gas company to undertake fracking in the UK, but has been able to frack only one of the four wells it had hoped to drill.
Egan said that by the end of its 30-month licence Cuadrilla will have undertaken only 21 months worth of work after being forced to stop work on multiple occasions.
The rules have been heavily criticised by Egan and other shale companies because seismic activity at this level is common when fracturing the Earth’s shale layers to release gas.
Egan has said that a commercial shale gas industry will be impossible in the UK without a change to the rules.
Natascha Engel stepped down as the UK’s first shale gas commissioner after only six months in April, blaming the “ridiculous” regulations for hobbling the industry.
Cuadrilla hopes the results of its work could make a case for the UK’s controversial shale gas ambitions and convince regulators to ease the earth tremor limits.
Frackers also face an uphill battle in the UK due to strong public opposition to shale gas and fierce protest from environmental groups.
Last week the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, called on the prime minister, Boris Johnson, to ban fracking over fears it may stop the UK meeting its climate targets.
Research commissioned by the opposition party found that exploiting the UK’s shale gas reserves would release enough greenhouse gas emissions to eliminate any hope of the government meeting its 2050 net zero target.
Cuadrilla said in a statement that shale gas could replace the UK’s existing gas imports meaning it would not lead to extra emissions.