Cuadrilla has applied to the Government for consent to frack the UK's first horizontal shale gas well, the company said.
The well was completed last month at the firm's Preston New Road site in west Lancashire, with drilling through the Lower Bowland shale at a depth of 2,700 metres below ground.
Cuadrilla now needs the go-ahead from Greg Clark, the Secretary of State for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, for hydraulic fracturing to commence.
Francis Egan, CEO of Cuadrilla, said: "Following the Government's very recent announcement which underlined the national importance of shale gas, we are very pleased to submit our application for hydraulic fracturing consent to the Secretary of State.
"We are now very close to demonstrating that Lancashire shale gas can be commercially developed in a safe and environmentally responsible manner. We look forward to receiving consent to progress from the Secretary of State at the earliest opportunity."
The drilling of a second horizontal shale gas exploration well through the Upper Bowland shale is nearing completion, added Cuadrilla.
A similar application to the Government for fracking consent at the second well will then be submitted.
Based on its current operations schedule, Cuadrilla said it plans to be in a position to conduct fracking in the second half of this year.
Cuadrilla says it will then run an initial flow test of both wells for six months, with plans to then eventually connect those wells to the local gas grid network in 2019.
Meanwhile, the firm is applying for a revision of an existing injunction which forbids trespass on the Preston New Road shale gas exploration site and farmland to also prohibit unlawful obstruction of the site entrance and adjacent road, and any of Cuadrilla's supply chain.
Mr Egan said: "Whilst we fully respect the right to peaceful and legal protest, unfortunately over the last 18 months we have seen an extraordinarily high level of unlawful protest activity.
"This has been directed at and impacted not just our workers, but also our suppliers and other law abiding citizens using the main road passing our site for their normal daily activities.
"Such unlawful conduct cannot be permitted to continue, and we hope that if we can secure this injunction it will deter this unlawful behaviour which is reckless and continues to cost local taxpayers millions of pounds."
A High Court hearing on the matter is scheduled to take place at Manchester Civil Justice Centre on May 31, said the company.