Shale gas extraction through fracking could boost the British economy, David Cameron will say at the World Economic Forum at Davos today.

Mr Cameron is expected to say fracking is already “flooring” energy prices in the US and could be a “fresh driver” of UK growth, a report by the BBC has said.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, involves drilling deep into the ground and releasing a mix of water, sand and chemicals at high-pressure to crack rocks and release gas trapped inside. The gas can then be used as another form of energy.

The process has received a lot of criticism over the years, with opponents voicing concerns over water contamination and environmental damage.

The Prime Minister believes, however that fracking is “essential to the success of globalisation” and that the UK and Europe must remain on a competitive level with the US in order to ensure future economic success.

The British Geological Survey estimates there may be 1,300 trillion cubic feet of shale gas in the North East of England, which Mr Cameron says could deliver a large economic boost, ensuring the supply of cheaper, more sustainable energy.

Mr Cameron will argue that more has to be done to encourage businesses to return to the UK – many have moved abroad to cut costs. He will tell the forum that energy costs saved by fracking are playing a huge part in attracting businesses back to the US and that this too can be the case for Britain.

This would mean more jobs for British contractors, who were hit hard by the outsourcing of labour to cheaper countries.