PetroChina has recently discovered vast resources of shale finds in the Sichuan province of China, indicating the country’s ability to transform the world’s energy picture with this unconventional fuel resource.
China, the world’s largest energy consumer, will benefit from the shale gas find, as the possibility of providing cheap energy supply for the future generations, is significant.
PetroChina acknowledged that the twenty wells it had drilled in the Sichuan province have shown a positive response with a production of 10,000 cu m of gas per well per day. However, the process is still on to detect the exact potential of the reserves.
The production of shale gas involves the process of ‘fracking’ that includes injecting wells with highly-pressurized fluids and chemicals, that cracks open the rock to release natural gas. This type of shale gas has become an increasingly important source of natural gas in the United States, the world’s largest producer of shale gas. It has greatly expanded the world energy supply and has also forced down the price of natural gas.
Although, China yet does not produce shale gas on a commercial scale, various companies are exploring the existence of shale gas in several provinces. These include Sinopec, PetroChina, Royal Dutch Shell, BP and Chevron.
According to US Energy Information Administration, China has more recoverable shale gas reserves that any other country in the world, enough to sustain 300 years of energy needs going by current consumption.
Considering the increasing demands for energy, China is encouraging the development of alternative sources of fossil fuels like shale gas and coal-bed methane. It is expected that China’s production will surpass that of US in no time.
Since PetroChina has drilled only vertical wells, the result of horizontal wells drilling will present a true comparison of China’s shale gas reserves with that of global.
However, some analysts are skeptical of the findings as 10,000 cu m of gas is not a huge reserve and shale gas production declines over the lifetime of the well.