Former BP boss Lord Browne has said that Britain’s “future lies” in shale gas and has vowed to invest “whatever it takes” to kick-start production.

Browne is chairman of Cuadrilla Resources, the only company currently carrying out shale gas exploration in Britain, and is also managing partner at Riverstone Holdings, a venture capital firm that backs Cuadrilla.

He has already invested millions of pounds into Cuadrilla and this week vowed to inject even more cash into drilling operations.

“We will finance whatever it takes,” he told the UK’s Guardian newspaper. He said the funding would come from “equity finance, then debt and equity” and added that “over ten years it will be billions”.

The process by which gas is released from shale rock, known as fracking, has been dogged by environmental concerns around the world, not least in the UK where Cuadrilla was forced to halt exploration in northwest England in 2011 following earth tremors caused by drilling.

While Browne acknowledges that the shale gas industry has environmental obstacles to overcome, he believes the UK is ideally placed to manage a safe transition to shale gas production because of its regulatory strengths.

“Onshore gas has plenty of regulators in the UK – the Environment Agency, the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the Department of Communities and Local Government, the Health and Safety Executive and local authorities,” he said.

“There is a complexity, which we are all used to, but which should be simplified. This is about streamlining – we want certainty but making sure that it is as simple as possible, and do it speedily. Right now it is not speedy, and there is not certainty. We need to speed things up.”

And he stressed: “Now this is the moment – this is where our future lies, this is where we have to get infrastructure built. As a nation, we are searching for our future, our source of competitive advantage. I feel very strongly we should not discard this advantage. We did the North Sea very well. This nation can do extraordinary things.”