UPDATE: Shale gas would power fourth plant in Gladstone
SHALE gas is the key to seeing the fourth gas plant planned for Gladstone go ahead, the company's director says.
Liquefied Natural Gas Company Limited plans to use shale gas to feed the proposed Fisherman's Landing plant.
The new industry, developed in the United States, has been termed "revolutionary".
LISTEN: Reporter Helen Spelitis explains why the company is looking at shale gas for a fourth gas plant
But first the company needs to secure the reserves and ensure the technology is up-to-date.
And some believe shale gas could also be the solution to a shortage of gas supplies in Queensland.
Extracting shale gas involves breaking up hard shale rock to release natural gas which is then captured.
The process is known as "fracking" in the industry and has been met with controversy in Australia and the United State due to environmental concerns.
However, LNG Limited's Managing Director Maurice Brand believes shale gas is the next stage for Queensland's LNG industry and said the expertise to unlock this supply were already well developed in the United States.
"There is huge potential," Mr Brand said.
"But it will take time. We're not going to see a major development in Gladstone short term."
He said a decision on whether or not the proposed plant would go ahead would be made within the next two years.
THE prospect of a fourth gas plant in Gladstone is still alive and kicking after the lease agreement over land at Fisherman's Landing, due to expire this year, was extended.
The deal buys the company behind the project, Liquefied Natural Gas Company Limited, more time to secure both a gas supply for the plant and some buyers.
Although with gas prices low and a predicted oversupply of LNG onto the world market, the prospect of construction starting soon may be slim.
Liquefied Natural Gas Company Limited plans to build a 3.5 mtpa plant on Gladstone's mainland, across the harbour from the three Curtis Island plants, but is yet to secure financial backing.
Construction started in 2009 but was put on hold after the project's gas supplies were bought out by PetroChina and Shell, which has now taken over the QCLNG plant.
LNGL has until December 2017 to build the plant and pipeline before its government approval expires.