China’s fracking future: challenges ahead

By
Published: Monday, 25 March 2013

As Chinese thirst for energy continues unabated, its shale oil and gas potential, liberated by hydraulic fracturing (fracking), would appear to be the ideal solution. But, as Vasili Nicoletopoulos asks, how will it overcome numerous legislative, political and environmental concerns?

By Vasili Nicoletopoulos

China is already the world’s largest energy consumer and that thirst for power is only going to continue to grow.

Energy consumption increased by 136% between 2001 and 2011, driven by average growth in GDP of 10.5%/year between 2007 and 2011.

This has lead to a quest for new energy sources and a search for domestic options that would be both cheaper than current imports and reduce the country’s reliance on outside sources. Its energy basket is now based predominantly on fossil fuels, with 66% of China’s gross domestic energy consumption in 2011 provided by ‘dirty’ coal. The move now is towards developing its shale oil and gas potential. In turn, this will rapidly increase demand for proppants (eg silica sand, bauxite and kaolin) required in hydraulic fracturing (fracking).



Natural gas

China became a net natural gas importer in 2007 and imports have gradually increased since then. China imported approximately 17bn cubic metres (bcm) of natural gas in 2010, with around 12.7 bcm in the form of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and 4.4 bcm through a pipeline from Turkmenistan. This accounted for around 16% of total gas consumption in China in that year.

Chinese gas imports in 2011 are estimated to have increased to around 31 bcm compared with a total demand of 130 bcm. China’s LNG imports have increased to around 16.6 bcm, 31% higher than 2010. Almost 30% of the total LNG imports came from Australia, with Qatar, Indonesia and Malaysia supplying some 19%, 16% and 13% of the total LNG imports, respectively.

In June 2012, natural gas imports in China increased by 58% compared with 2011 to reach 7.27m tonnes, with natural gas consumption increasing by around 15%/year since 2000.

Natural gas comprises about 4% of China’s gross domestic consumption, but its 12th five-year plan (see below) put a target of an 8%-share of natural gas in the overall energy mix to be achieved 2016. Although growth of 4 percentage points by 2016 may appear small, an increase of just 1 percentage point in China’s consumption equates to about 25 bcm/per year (see Figure 1).



Oil

A recent International Energy Agency (IEA) report revealed that China, which consumed around 4.7m barrels of oil/day as recently as decade ago, would end the year 2012 by importing about 9.7m barrels per day, a major factor in pushing global oil prices from around $30/barrel in 2000 to 2012 prices ranging between $80 and $110. In fact in December 2012 China overtook the US as the world’s largest net importer of oil.

A US Energy Information Administration report on China released in September 2012 and based on Oil & Gas Journal estimates, provides the following estimates on proven oil reserves: “20.4bn barrels as of January 2012, up over 4bn barrels from three years ago and the highest in the Asia-Pacific region. China’s largest and oldest oil fields are located in the northeast region of the country.”

China’s oil imports have surged with sustained demand growth. The country has been a net oil importer since 1993 and a net crude oil importer since 1996. According to the General Administration of Customs of China, in 2010 imports were 4.7m barrels per day (bpd) [236mt] of crude oil, accounting for around 53.8% of total demand.

China Oil, Gas & Petrochemicals reported imports of more than 5m bpd in 2011, highly dependent on the Middle East, which accounted for more than 50% of the total crude oil imports in 2011, followed by Africa with around 24%. By country, Saudi Arabia (20% of the total) was the biggest import source of crude oil in 2011, followed by Angola (12), Iran (11), Oman (7), Russia (7), Sudan (5) and Iraq (5). China’s oil imports were set to reach 500mt in 2012, a 5%-increase from 2011. Crude imports now outweigh domestic supply, and account for more than half of total oil consumption in 2011.



Infrastructure: today and tomorrow

China’s existing gas and oil infrastructure in terms of fields, pipelines, terminals and storage sites are shown in map 1 and map 2.

China is characterised by an inadequate infrastructure. Its fragmented pipeline, pressing and storage facilities are not currently able to handle the volume suggested by its reserves. Typically, oil companies must construct new roads, bridges and other infrastructure for large-scale drilling operations.

As a comparison, the US has more than 210 natural gas pipelines stretching across 300,000 miles and reaching almost every major market in the country, while China had just 22,400 miles in 2010, and this is expected to be increased to only 62,100 miles by 2015.

Aside from the dearth of pipelines and mid-to-downstream infrastructure, other weaknesses also include a lack of storage capabilities and a non-market driven pricing scheme, which discourages the high level of investment necessary to achieve shale gas extraction.

Indeed, energy producers in China often end up squeezed between government-capped prices on the market and varying production costs, which, in effect, subsidise consumers.

Furthermore, China’s relative lack of progress in this area so far means that certain geological factors - such as more difficult to exploit deposits or lack of water required for extraction - remain less known. Of course, with heavy state- owned enterprise influence in the sector, as well as an abundance of cheap credit, not all of these problems are necessarily insurmountable.

For example, China has constructed the 4,200km west-to-east pipeline to carry gas from Xinjiang Province in the west to Shanghai, opened the TransAsian pipeline in 2009 to bring gas from Turkmenistan to China, and brought four LNG-receiving terminals online, allowing LNG to meet some 10% of Chinese gas demand. Other LNG-receiving terminals are also under construction.

The main way to encouraging expanded production and the use of natural gas is through government-set targets and mandates, which state-run companies, with some participation from private companies, then follow up with investments and projects.



The future of Chinese gas: production, consumption, imports

China’s natural gas consumption is expected to reach 165 bcm in 2013, up 11.9% year-on-year (y-o-y), according to a research institute affiliated with China National Petroleum Corp. In the longer term, Wood Mackenzie Ltd predicts that China’s natural-gas consumption will increase fourfold by 2030 to 600 bcm per year, accounting for 30% of the global growth in gas, but the nation’s ‘ambitious’ target for 2020 may be delayed by the need for better understanding of its shale formations and insufficient technical know-how, supply-chain services and infrastructure.

Imports of gas by China could also be difficult. By 2025, in addition to increasing its own production of shale gas, China is expected to be receiving gas from Central Asia and Myanmar (Burma) and LNG from Australia, while there is also the interesting prospect of a market for Russian gas in China.

China’s 2020 gas production target, issued jointly by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Land Resources and the National Energy Administration stands at 60-100 bcm (2.12-3.53 trillion cubic feet) per year and would be equivalent to the entire volume of natural gas the country produces today.



China’s shale gas resources

This all leaves little doubt as to the need for development of a Chinese low-cost fuel, such as that derived from shale, with less environmental impact than coal. However, China’s shale reserves could be twice as deep as those in the US and are located far below mountainous terrain, meaning that however keen China might be to develop its massive shale reserves, there will be challenges regarding the technology and infrastructure to make hydraulic fracturing a real way forward for the country.

Apart from coalbed methane, which is estimated to be 1,306.64 trillion cubic feet, there is no consensus on the amount of unconventional gas resources in China, and the estimates on the amount of shale gas resources vary considerably (see table 2)

China has two large sedimentary basins that contain thick, organic-rich shales with excellent potential for shale gas development. These two basins, the Sichuan and the Tarim, contain marine-deposited shales with potentially favourable reservoir quality, including prospective thickness, depth, TOC, thermal maturity and brittle mineralogical composition. In addition, China has five sizeable, but less prospective, shale gas basins with non-marine shales.

The Tarim basin, in the west, is also rich in shale gas and is estimated to have about 389 trillion cubic feet. Onshore shale gas is mainly in the Bohai Bay, Junggar, Tuha, Ordos and Quaidam basins and covers an approximate area of 25,000km2. In northern China, sea-land shale gas covers about 15,000km. But the biggest reserves lie under Chinese waters, about 75,000km in southern, northern and the Tarim basin.



Shale gas production scenario

China’s Ministry of Land and Resources’ hydrocarbon research arm is forecasting shale gas production in China to reach 6.5 bcm (229.55 bcf) per year by 2015, which is equivalent to 6.4% of China’s total gas production today.

Estimates for the future of unconventional gas in China have also been presented by the IEA. In what the agency calls ‘the Golden Rules’ scenario, “unconventional gas production is projected to jump from 12 bcm in 2010 to over 110 bcm in 2020 and 390 bcm in 2035, while total gas production will rise from under 100 bcm in 2010 to nearly 475 bcm in 2035. Unconventional gas will account for 83% of total gas production by the end of the projection period. Unconventional gas production in 2035 will be predominately from shale gas (56%) and coalbed methane (38%); tight gas (6%) will take a smaller share”.

Public policy/legislation

Chinese legislation tends to be comprehensive and far-reaching. In the case of shale, this is fully justified as policy-makers should deal with a web of issues including not only supply and demand, but also resource management and environmental protection, import substitution, technology and R&D, infrastructure, health and safety, education and training, fiscal aspects and, finally, geopolitics.

China issued its 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) in 2011 and in 2012, its shale and other unconventional gas strategy covering the same period. The plan established four ambitious milestones, including completion of a nationwide shale gas survey and appraisal; a goal of 6.5 bcm of shale gas production by 2015, equivalent to 2-3% of projected 2015 Chinese gas production, and more than 60 bcm of shale gas production by 2020; development of suitable methods, technologies and equipment for China’s shale gas survey, appraisal, exploration and production; and establishment of technical standards, rules and policies regulating China’s shale gas development, including reserve survey, appraisal and certification, test and analysis, exploration and production and environmental measurements.

The new blueprint emphasised the need for foreign co-operation to develop shale-gas technologies, and companies including ConocoPhillips, Chevron Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell and BP are now involved in shale-gas exploration joint ventures in China.

The plan also stated that competition within the shale-gas sector would be encouraged and market entry conditions would be clearly defined for companies wishing to work in shale gas - these companies will also be encouraged to work with foreign partners. The plan also promised supportive financial policies and subsidies for shale gas, including price subsidies, preferential tax treatment and land subsidies, and placed an emphasis on R&D for technology, exploration, and development of shale gas for the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020). The Chinese government also provides a subsidy of 0.4 yuan ($0.064*) per cubic meter for shale gas, compared with 0.2 yuan ($0.032) for coal gas. This reflects the difficulty in extracting shale gas and aims to encourage private investment in the sector.

However, it remains to be seen whether the new presidency of President Xi Jinping will cause major policy changes for the shale gas industry.

In the field of education and training, there has been an increase in the numbers of government-sponsored Chinese graduate students who make themselves available as research and teaching assistants on a gratis basis to professors in US universities, especially the top three institutions in shale gas, the University of Oklahoma, Stanford University and Texas A&M. The aim here is to develop a pool of Chinese scholars with academic and technical experience in shale gas and other petroleum engineering technologies. Chinese oil and gas companies are also sending ‘industry interns’ to various US companies.

Strategic policy decisions in China are made nationally, with implementation and enforcement responsibilities often delegated to local authorities. Many aspects of China’s legal and regulatory framework for oil and gas development are broadly defined, giving local regulators the freedom to consider project-specific circumstances in their decisions, although this can also lead to unpredictable outcomes. Challenges arise from the fragmentation and overlap of responsibilities among various regulating entities, uncertainty about effective co-ordination between them and potentially inconsistent enforcement of regulations.

To understand which policies will most likely impact shale gas, it is important to look at the policies currently in place for other non-traditional extractive industries, such as coal-based methane. If shale were to be controlled under the same policies, companies operating in China’s shale gas industries could potentially take advantage of its status as an ‘independent mineral’ (approved 31 December 2011), as it opens shale exploration to more participants. Independent mineral status encourages the exploration of shale gas by foreign companies and induces competition via certain tax and administrative benefits.

The central government tightly controls shale gas blocks by organising auctions or granting exploration rights. Auctions held in 2011 and 2012 will be discussed below.

Recent exploration activities

Gas exploration has intensified in recent years under a government-driven programme to evaluate the resource base. Results from several pilot projects, due to be completed in 2012, were expected to inform the selection of high- potential areas for further exploration. As of early 2012, an estimated 20 shale gas wells had been drilled by Chinese companies. Petro-China, producing nearly 80% of China’s total gas output, completed drilling China’s first horizontal shale gas well in late March 2011 in Sichuan province. Following the December 2010 drilling of a vertical shale gas test well in Yuanba, about 500km from Sichuan province capital Chengdu, Sinopec drilled its first horizontal shale gas well in mid-2011 in Fuling, not far from Yuanba and in the same prolific geological Sichuan Basin.

The Chinese government has also started modifying its own laws to encourage foreign shale gas E&P companies to partner Chinese companies or even drill independently. As a result, there have been many cooperative projects, such as the US and China joint shale gas initiative in 2009, PetroChina’s entering a long-term partnership with BP in July 2010, Statoil negotiating with Shenhua Geological Exploration to jointly develop shale gas projects, and Chevron and ConocoPhillips engagements in Chinese shale gas joint ventures. China Petroleum Corp., having already found shale gas at 20 sites, has launched a joint venture with Chevron. ExxonMobil, BP, and France-based Total are also working to form shale gas partnerships with Chinese oil and gas companies, while Australia-based Leyshon acquired the right to explore for unconventional gas in the Ordos Basin in Shanxi province, central China.

Shell is set to produce more natural gas than crude oil worldwide in 2012 and is already the world’s largest supplier of liquefied natural gas. It is in the early stages of exploration and appraisal of deposits in China, although it does not yet have an estimate of the production potential from the fields. The company has been developing shale projects in China for the past two years, and describes the potential as ‘very powerful’. It has shale gas agreements with all three main oil companies, and signed its first production-sharing contract for shale gas with China National Petroleum Corporation in March 2012.

Auctions for Chinese shale

The auction barriers are still high as entities had to be either Chinese companies or Chinese-held joint-venture companies. Making the process more unequal, there was also a clear absence of bids from China’s top oil and natural gas companies from the 152 bids received as their vote would have proven redundant as they already have rights to exploration on certain blocks. Further complicating conditions are the minimum value the company needs to have ($48m) and the minimum they are required to invest in the blocks for the next three years.

A first tender for four blocks of shale gas exploration acreage in the Sichuan Basin was held in June 2011, with participation limited to six eligible state-controlled companies - PetroChina, China National Offshore Oil Corp., Sinopec, Shaanxi Yanchang Petroleum, China United Coal Bed Methane and Henan Provincial Coal Seam Gas Development & Utilization, with just two blocks being awarded. Sinopec won the Nanchuan block in Guizhou, while Henan Provincial was awarded the Xiushan block near Chongqing city.

A second shale gas auction was launched in October 2012, opening the bidding to Chinese-controlled joint ventures and private companies for 20 blocks over a total area of 20,002km2. Some 19 of the 20 blocks received at least three bids, the minimum required for a block’s auction to proceed. A block, which received only two bids, was removed from the auction. To encourage mining enterprises, winners in this bidding could expand the scope of their exploration to adjacent areas, should they achieve breakthroughs in their exploration.

The ministry announced the top three bidders for each block in early December, most of which were companies with no oil and gas experience. PetroChina was shortlisted for the Sangzhi block in Hunan province, but lost out to China Coal Geology Engineering Co.

The 19 blocks were eventually awarding to 16 domestic companies, comprising six state-owned enterprises, eight local government and two privately-owned companies. Coal and power companies won eight blocks. The total investment for all 19 blocks around central China in Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Guizhou, Jiangxi and Zhejiang provinces, as well as in the Chongqing area, was expected to be Yuan 12.8bn ($2.06bn) within the first three years of exploration.

Shenhua Energy Co Ltd, the country’s largest coal producer, won the auction of a shale gas block in southern China, the 1,189km2 Baojing Shale Gas Block in Hunan province and said it will invest 874m yuan ($140.42m) in the exploration of the shale gas block over three years, but it also cautioned against investment risks.

Environmental and labour issues

China’s economy runs on coal. China produced 3.8bn tonnes of coal in 2011, almost half of the world’s total. However, in environmental terms, 1 tonne of coal produces up to 2.86 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2), while shale gas emits around 45% less per unit of energy and could therefore help China to reduce its carbon footprint significantly. On balance, China’s policy makers believe shale gas will be beneficial to the environment and if shale gas production meets its 2015 targets, it would result in annual (CO2) reductions of 14m tonnes, but at the same time possibly reducing the motivation to cut energy consumption.

Another consideration is that China’s current over-reliance on coal means its cities are now choked in smog. As there are no real alternatives, China plans to double its coal power capacity by 2020.

However, the real worry for foreign investors, and indeed local residents, is that the country’s existing environmental legislation is not equipped to effectively regulate the projected boom in China’s unconventional energy sector.

On 28 March 2012, Wen Jiabao, China’s premier, addressed the Communist party’s annual congress to speak not on the potential of shale, but more on the challenges the exploration and development of shale gas presents.

For example, with 20% of the world’s population, China only possesses 6% of global water resources. Water scarcity is exacerbated by pollution associated with the prolonged economic boom. As such, water from around 20% of the seven rivers and basins and 35% of 26 main lakes monitored are essentially unusable for industrial and agricultural purposes. Without strict and well enforced regulation, China’s major fresh-water resources face heightened risks of pollution due to the use of chemicals in the fracking process. In other words, the potential for contamination of existing water supplies - both aquifers and above ground sources - is certainly a factor China must consider in the context of already excessively polluted water.

There are additional challenges related to water usage in China, and fracking does appear to compare well with other sources of energy generation. Some 97% of China’s power relies on water, whether it is water for cooling nuclear power stations, solar panel factories or coal-washing steam turbines - and fracking is no exception.

A recent chemical spill in a river at a Chinese fertiliser factory on 31 December 2012 affected at least 28 villages and a small number of cities with populations of more than 1m people, and provides another example of environmental concerns in China.

Water scarcity is a further problem as some of China’s largest untapped shale gas deposits are in the arid western regions, where drillers could find themselves competing with consumers for water.

Environmentalists are also concerned about methane leaks during the extraction of natural gas from shale formations. They claim this offsets at least a portion of the climate gains made from reduced emissions of (CO2) in the switch from coal to gas.

In terms of environmental regulations, China’s control of land, water, and air are varied and controlled by different ministries. The impact of these policies will have to wait for a more firm classification of shale gas by the government. Meanwhile, oil and gas companies in China not only need to implement robust environmental protection mechanisms, but are also advised to actively engage with local communities at the earliest possible stage in business planning to seek consensus and mitigate risks, both financial and to their reputations.

In the area of labour, shale development requires specialised personnel and this will be initially supplied from abroad. Locally, and as with all industries, any developments in shale should take into account the increasing conflict between workers and management, which is convincing Chinese authorities that the country’s workers need more effective representation. The government has pledged to increase minimum wages and force state-owned companies to hand over more of their revenues to the public as part of a push to tackle growing inequality.

It should be noted that Chinese labour unions are nothing like their western peers. The All-China Federation of Trade Unions, the country’s official union, is run by the government and the Communist party, and in turn controls the unions in individual companies. Currently, the unions mostly offer workers training to raise their technical skills. Labour experts believe the impact that even democratically elected union representatives can have in China is likely to remain very limited for some time. But as progressive as the authorities appear to be in their efforts to promote collective bargaining, labour specialists warn the concept is not fully understood in China.

Geopolitics

Geopolitical issues regarding energy concern exploiting disputed territories, reducing energy dependence, strengthening military posture, mitigating trade imbalances and acquiring foreign capital and technology on favourable terms.

If the US shale revolution provides energy independence from the Middle East, China will emerge as a geopolitical loser, according to the German Federal Intelligence Service (BND). As the IEA suggests that shale oil could make the US the world’s top petroleum producer by 2020, this would likely prompt the US to scale back its involvement with the Middle East. As the British Empire receded from the Greater Middle East in the first half of the 20th Century, so the US began to increase its involvement in the region, and it may soon be China’s turn to do the same, as an energy-independent US could mean trouble for the country as it would have to absorb higher costs to secure supply routes out of the Middle East.

This may still be turned on its head as significant shale oil discoveries in Australia could decrease China’s need for Middle Eastern petroleum. For now, at least, one of the heaviest superpower burdens - securing energy from high-risk areas - seems to be shifting eastward.

While China and India have become major export partners for Australian LNG, supplementing existing demand for the Australian commodity from Japan and South Korea, Australia’s LNG industry is beginning to believe that a growing shale gas industry in China could threaten the Asian countries’ appetite for LNG.

The US is using its restrictions on exports of LNG. Tokyo Electric Power Co, the operator of Fukushima, plans to buy gas from an LNG terminal in Louisiana, US, raising expectations that Japan will tap into the US shale gas boom, with the LNG price linked to the Henry Hub benchmark - at about $3.30 per million metric BTU. Tokyo is currently lobbying for changes in US export restrictions to mitigate soaring energy costs after 2011’s nuclear disaster closed reactors and, in the meantime, Japanese trading houses and energy companies are seeking access to LNG from Canada and elsewhere.

In the EU, shale gas coupled with LNG has become an increasingly important source, not only reducing the pricing power of Russia, but also providing a supply alternative to currently monopolised markets. As Russia’s market share of gas supplies appears to be decreasing, Moscow had to agree to EU price reduction demands, while continuing to haggle with China over gas prices. In this respect, access to LNG supplies and possible reserves of shale gas may provide Beijing with greater negotiating leeway, even if Russia’s vast territory and significant reserves of hydrocarbon resources ensure that it remains an important energy supplier.

Such factors explain why the Chinese government encourages foreign investment to engage in the exploration and development of oil, natural gas and unconventional oil and gas resources, such as shale gas and coal-bed gas. It is doing this via cooperation and by inviting foreign investment in the building of new-energy power stations, hydroelectric power stations, clean-combustion power stations and nuclear power stations - as long as the Chinese partners maintain control. It is also supporting multinational energy corporations seeking to establish R&D centres in China.

The military posture of China could be also affected by unconventional oil and gas supplies. Beijing cannot hope to cover its rising energy demand with help of unconventional sources any time soon. In any case, China is focused on backing up its territorial claims in the South and East China Seas with rapid expansion of military power. And, despite talk in Beijing about the need to secure shipping lanes, the capabilities of the People’s Liberation Army-Navy in this regard remain underdeveloped. Thus, US withdrawal from the region would be as worrying for Beijing as it would be for Washington’s allies.

The US has many reasons to stay involved in the Middle East, whereas China is focusing on claims in its vicinity for now. Beijing may, in time, have more of a vested interest in guaranteeing maritime security, especially as it develops its raw materials interests in Africa. But depending on how political relations evolve, an agreement with the US might also be in the cards. This, however, seems a long way off from today’s situation.

Another consideration is China’s trade imbalances. Although China runs a very positive overall trade balance, the opposite is true for hydrocarbons. Beijing would therefore welcome a new and competitive source of domestic energy that will allow it to further improve its balance of payments and, as a result, augment its cash pile.

Technology presents a further hurdle as China’s complicated geology, its deep and earthquake-prone reserves, scarce water resources and lack of foreign participation, are barriers to the mass commercialisation of shale gas, even though drilling an exploration well costs only about a third when compared with, for example, Eagle Ford, Texas, according to Leyshon Resources Ltd.

To address these difficulties, China has agreed to the US-China Shale Gas Resource Initiative to promote shale gas investment in China through a US-China oil and gas industry forum, study tours and workshops focused on shale gas development.

Chinese shale projects abroad are another vehicle for China to acquire much-needed knowhow. Its oil majors had spent $6bn in acquiring shale gas projects in North America, working with local operators such as Chesapeake and Devon Energy, even before CNOOC’s bid for Canada’s Nexen. China’s Lanzhou Haimo Technologies also announced in October 2012 that it will buy a 14.29%-stake in Houston-based Carrizo Oil & Gas’s Niobrara shale oil and gas assets in Colorado for $27.5m, including 6,000 acres of territory located primarily in Colorado’s Weld and Adams counties and associated infrastructure, including oil and gas wells.

Technologies such as waterless fracking, a new technology that enables reuse of produced water, would also be of interest to China due to the scarcity of and possible damage to its waters.

Chinese ceramic proppants tend to have a much lower crush resistance due to flaws in the proppant beads. The main issue is the amount fines generated when the proppant is crushed by the fracture, although manufacturing processes are improving. Conversely, US ceramic proppants can be used in all wells, but thrive in high-pressure wells, such as those in the relatively deeper Haynesville shale, where raw frac sand is ineffective. A rule of thumb is that if the well pressure is greater than 5,000 psi then ceramics are more appropriate.

In a broader context, technology as a tool to strengthen the country’s geopolitical situation should encompass not only shale oil, but also oil sand and other non-conventional oil and gas resources. The transformation of the energy development mode and upgrading of the energy industry will also require more support in funding, technology and policy to launch major demonstration projects in such fields as large pressurised-water reactors, high-temperature gas-cooled reactors, development and utilisation of coal-bed gas, exploration and development of shale gas, coal exploration and processing, development and utilisation of coal-bed gas, energy storage and smart power grids and advanced nuclear reactors, thus promoting the application of technological and scientific research achievements in production.

It is certain that the Chinese government will continue to support large enterprises, R&D institutes, colleges and universities to set up national innovation platforms that can conduct R&D along these lines.

*Calculated March 2013

This article is an offshoot of ‘Hydraulic Fracturing and the Growth of Shale Gas and Shale Oil Internationally’, a comprehensive study in CD form, available from Natural Resources GP www.naturalresources.gr

Many thanks should be given to Ms. Maria Kalaitzaki.

By the same author: Fracking in Europe: the potential and the pitfalls, V.Nicoletopoulos, Natural Resources GP, IM Nov ‘12, and Fracking for Shale Gas & Shale Oil Worldwide, presented at the 2nd Tunisia Oil & Gas Summit, Hammamet, Tunisia, September 22, 2012.