The International Energy Agency’s executive director has described the rise of shale gas an energy revolution, but stressed that the “industry must win public confidence by demonstrating exemplary performance” otherwise it will face “blanket bans”.

Maria Van der Hoeven warned that while worldwide unconventional gas supplies are considerable, there are still serious uncertainties as to whether they can meet their full potential.

“Such uncertainties exist because alongside the potential economic and energy security benefits of unconventional gas, there are also legitimate public concerns about its environmental and social impacts,” she said yesterday at the Baker Institute in Houston.

“These include the implications for water resources, land use and disruption to local communities.”

She said the key issue for the energy industry was “one of good governance, good management, and good oversight”.

“The industry must win public confidence by demonstrating exemplary performance; and governments must ensure that appropriate policies and regulatory regimes are in place.”

 She stressed that while “excessive regulation which chokes innovation and threatens the viability of the industry” must be avoided, “we must be sure that safeguards and rules are effective – and include proper oversight mechanisms.”

She warned that if politicians and the public were not reassured of this effectiveness, “we are likely to see a backlash against unconventional extraction methods, and blanket bans”.

From no production 25 years ago, in 2010 shale gas accounted for 23 per cent of total gas production in the US, according to the US Energy Information Administration.