FRACKING — which has sparked worldwide controversy — could happen on the Island, according to an oil company with a licence to search for shale gas here.
An Australian oil company is examining the results of seismology tests to decide if it pursues the process on the IW.
The news came a week after the government ended its ban on the drilling process, in which a chemical solution is pumped underground at high pressure to cause cracks in rocks and release gas.
Supporters say it could help to make the UK more energy self-sufficient and reduce energy price fluctuations.
Opponents say the process has led to polluted water, dangerous emissions and earth tremors.
A study by the British Geological Survey found the entire Island could be sitting on significant reserves.
Oil and gas exploration licences have been awarded for much of the south of the Island, from The Needles to Sandown.
The licences, held by several companies, including Norwest, Wessex Exploration and Northern Petroleum, allow for oil exploration as well as shale gas drilling by fracking.
Northern Petroleum has ruled out fracking at this stage, but Norwest, which started fracking in Western Australia this year, is evaluating seismology.
David Hedderwick, of Norwest, said environmental concerns would be taken into account before drilling started and regulations would prevent the problems that had occurred in the USA.
Island-based geologist Dr Bruce Denness said IW reserves would be attractive to drilling companies because the geologoy should make the gas easy to extract.
He did not believe the process was a significant risk to land stability on the Island, even in areas prone to landslip, such as the Undercliff.
But David Green, chief executive of Ecoisland Community Interest Company, said there had been concerns water used in fracking contained chemicals that could pollute water sources.