French Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg has called for shale gas to be investigated as a possible energy source in France.

His comments come ahead of a government-commissioned report due to be published later today which is to call for France to lift its ban on shale gas exploration and utilize the gas to cut the country’s energy imports and costs.

French President Francois Hollande has vowed to ban ‘fracking’ – the hydraulic fracturing process that releases the gas – but there is pressure within his government to put shale back on the energy agenda.

Other countries that have banned fracking are Germany and Bulgaria while the European Union’s most pro-shale country is Poland, which is also believed to have the greatest reserves in Europe.

In the UK, fracking in a small scale has been carried out in the north west of England over the last two years and in recent months there have been calls from several prominent business and trade organization, including the Institution of Directors and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, to push ahead with more widespread fracking as they believe this will create a jobs and skills boom.

Last week at a conference in London, UK Energy Secretary Ed Davey said shale gas did not offer “huge potential” to the UK. He said: “Yes, the shale gas opportunities are there. No, its is not a silver bullet.”