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China Starts Drilling For Natural Gas 6 Miles Underground

China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) has started drilling an ultra-deep well with a designed depth of 10,520 meters (6.5 miles) in the Sichuan province, news agency Xinhua reports.

The ultra-deep well is targeting natural gas and is located in the northwest of the Sichuan Basin. There are multiple sets of high-quality reservoirs superimposed in the ultra-deep layers of the region, the Chinese media reported.

Earlier this year, oil drillers in China set a record for well depth, drilling 9,396 meters (30,827 ft or 5.8 miles) into the ground for what has become the deepest oil well in Asia. The record-deep well is part of a new phase in the development of an oil field in the Taklamakan desert, the biggest one in China.

In May, CNPC said it had started drilling its first scientific exploration oil well with a depth of more than 10,000 meters in the northwestern Chinese region Xinjiang.

After setting record-depth drilling at oil wells, China is now targeting natural gas in Sichuan with a 10,520-meter deep well.

The Sichuan province in southwestern China is also estimated to hold a large part of China’s shale gas resources.

A new shale gas field in the Sichuan basin contains as much as 146 billion cubic meters (bcm) of certified proven natural gas reserves, Chinese state energy giant Sinopec said at the end of 2022. 

The much deeper location of the shale gas reserves in China makes extraction much more challenging than in the U.S., for example.  

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Although China is estimated to have a high volume of shale gas resources, topping even those in the United States, its shale gas boom has not yet materialized. Unlike in the U.S., the development of shale gas resources in China is much more difficult due to more complex geography and a lack of adequate infrastructure to remote mountainous regions where most of the Chinese shale resources lie. Drilling for shale gas in China requires deeper wells, while fracturing is also tricky because of the mountain terrain and geological constraints.   

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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