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Opportunities abound for China shale gas

By Tom McGregor  (China Daily)

13:43, October 22, 2012

Groundbreaking technological innovations have often revolutionized the oil and gas industry in the US. For decades, the nation had relied on high-polluting coal for much of its energy, while oil prices continued to rise. It would seem as if Americans would spend the rest of their lives paying sky-high electric bills.

Yet, a few brilliant geophysicists, drilling tech experts and engineers made a discovery a few years ago that would transform the energy sector. They could tap large shale gas reserves in North America by utilizing hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking drilling.

The technique sparked a shale boom, which boosted the supply of liquefied natural gas, LNG to bring about lower utility bills for American households.

"In addition, greenhouse gas emissions fell to the lowest level in 20 years in the United States in the first quarter of this year, because of increased use of cheap gas," according to Reuters. LNG is a cleaner burning fossil fuel.

Well, the shale gas story should sound intriguing for China, since it is the world's largest energy consumer, as well as holding the largest shale gas reserves globally, as disclosed through estimates by the US Energy Information Administration.

Experts claim the country holds total recoverable shale gas resources estimated at 1.275 trillion cubic feet. But despite the good news, some skeptics contend the shale boom might not bring greater prosperity, but instead more environmental hazards along with disappointments for shale gas wildcatters.

"Chinese geology poses technological problems to the shale gas industry, with most reserves fully twice as deep as those in the US and further hampered by hilly terrain," as reported by Business Excellence Magazine."

Additionally, "China is also hobbled by a lack of infrastructure. Its fragmented pipeline, pressing and storage facilities are not currently capable of handling the potential volume promised by its reserves … Typically, oil companies must construct new roads, bridges and other infrastructure for large-scale drilling operations."

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