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China's Shale Exploration Yields Promising Results

China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation, or Sinopec, has found oil and gas at a shale exploration well in the Sichuan province in the southwest, estimating that the initial flows could lead to the discovery of around 100 million metric tons of hydrocarbons.   

The Xingye-9 exploration well in the Chongqing municipality tested a daily flow of 108.15 cubic meters of oil and 15,800 cubic meters of natural gas, Sinopec said on Tuesday in a statement carried by Reuters

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

Chinese state oil and gas giants have stepped up exploration efforts in China in recent years, in line with a government policy to boost reserves and production to help reduce dependence on imports. 

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

In November 2023, Sinopec announced the first oil and gas flows from the deepest onshore well in Asia, which had been recently completed. The well depth is 9,432 meters (30,945 ft)—a new record set for the deepest onshore well in Asia.

While Chinese giants increase exploration in the shale basins and in conventional locations, the much deeper location of the shale oil and gas reserves in China makes extraction more challenging than in the U.S., for example.  

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 the 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.    

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By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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