The principal investigator of the Lake Ellsworth drilling mission, Professor Martin Siegert, has said he and the team are "extremely disappointed" to have called off the mission.
He said that drilling was proceeding slower than expected and that there would not have been enough fuel to continue.
He added: "We must remember that the scientific reasons to do this work remain compelling".
Scientists are to begin drilling through 3km of ice to reach an Antarctic lake that has been untouched for hundreds of thousands of years.
A team of British scientists is set to start drilling deep into an Antarctic ice sheet in the hope of finding life in an ancient lake.