A number of wells could be drilled in locations across north-west England by 2017, according to reports.
The Northwich Guardian said the move could pave the way by INEOS for fracking operations.
INEOS is expected to operate a licence which was awarded by the UK Government.
It would allow the company to explore for oil or gas which could exist.
INEOS chief executive Gary Haywood told local community members the focus would be on whether gas could be produced from the shale layer of rock in the licence, which is around three to five
kilometres below the surface.
He said any further operations would be subject to a normal planning process through local planning authorities.
It’s understood a number of planning application will be drilled during 2016, with a view to drilling up to four vertical wells across both Cheshire and the East Midlands basins the year after.