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According to Chinaâs Ministry of Land and Resources, the government is preparing to declare shale gas a priority mineral.
In the West, particularly the United States, the practice of extracting shale natural gas via hydraulic fracturing, or âfracking,â is meeting increased resistance from environmentalists, as the process involves pumping liquids under high pressure underground to break apart geological formations entrapping the natural gas.
Environmentalists claim that the practice pollutes subterranean groundwater and that the exploratory companies are resisting releasing information on the chemical mix that they are injecting in the recovery process.
Shanghai Daily reported that in early 2011 the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimated that China potential shale gas reserves could exceed 36 trillion cubic meters of "technically recoverable" hydrocarbons, which, if verified, would be an amount almost 50 percent higher than the estimated current U.S. reserves.
Chinaâs Ministry of Land and Resources, while more cautious than the EIA, nevertheless stated on its website that Chinese reserves could consist of 31 trillion cubic meters, citing an initial appraisal that covered 1.5 million square kilometers of shale-gas-rich areas.
Last month the Chinese government awarded China Petroleum and Chemical Corp, more familiarly known as Sinopec, and Henan Province Coal Seam Gas Development and Utilization exploration rights to two shale blocks in the countryâs Sichuan Basin, an event which marked the start of commercial shale gas exploration in China along with governmental efforts to boost the use of the more environmentally friendly fuel.
By. Joao Peixe, Deputy Editor OilPrice.com
Joao is a writer for Oilprice.com