Chemicals company Ineos said on Thursday that it is planning to invest $1 billion in shale gas exploration and appraisal in the United Kingdom.

On top of that, substantial further investment would be made by the company if it moved into development and production.

In recent months, Ineos has been awarded two shale gas exploration licenses in the U.K. and decisions are awaited on a number of others, most of which are in Scotland and the north of England. If the company wins all of the licenses it has applied for it expects to become the biggest player in the U.K. shale gas industry.

This announcement comes at a time when the government is assessing applications made by operators for new onshore licenses to explore for shale gas, the BBC pointed out. Other industry players could make similar statements over the coming weeks and months.

Ineos currently owns two shale licenses in Scotland comprising over 120,000 acres. It is also investing £400 million ($626 million) to build a new import terminal, storage tank and associated infrastructure at its Grangemouth refinery to import shale gas from the United States.

Commenting on Thursday's announcement, Jim Ratcliffe, Ineos chairman, said: "I want Ineos to be the biggest player in the U.K. shale gas industry. I believe shale gas could revolutionize UK manufacturing and I know Ineos has the resources to make it happen, the skills to extract the gas safely and the vision to realize that everyone must share in the rewards."