The UK needs to start fracking to establish the economic impact of shale gas, an industry-funded body has said.
The Shale Gas Task Force says only after fracking has begun will it be possible to determine how much gas can be recovered.
It said shale could create thousands of jobs and improve UK energy security, but doubted if it would cut prices.
However, the report was criticised by Greenpeace, coming just days after a climate deal was agreed in Paris.
“Whatever planet the UK fracking lobby inhabits, it can’t be the same one where world leaders just reached a historic deal that puts fossil fuels on the wrong side of history,” Greenpeace said.
“If the UK government is really committed to keeping its end of the Paris deal, it must rethink its support for fracking and back safe, cheap clean energy instead.”
The Shale Gas Task Force said without reliable estimates of how much gas could be recovered, companies would not start to develop the industry.
The report calls on the government and local communities to allow initial exploratory wells.
Chairman of the task force, Lord Smith, said that shale could help cut emissions by replacing more polluting coal: “We need to be even clearer… about shale gas providing a bridge to a low carbon future.”
However, he said he doubted whether shale gas would cut UK energy prices “because its almost impossible to tell if that is true or not”.