Shanxi, China’s main coal-mining area, also rich in shale gas

PetroChina drilling rig
Source: PetroChina website

According to recent reports, Chinese Shanxi province, known as the “sea of coal”, is also rich in shale gas. The province has produced more than 14 billion tonnes of coal over the past six decades, a quarter of the country’s total output, but with Beijing’s new policy of moving away from the dirty coal and towards cleaner gas, Shanxi may have a bright future as the country’s shale producing area.

Shanxi Coal Geological Bureau and two local energy companies have concluded their two-year study of the area by estimating that the province has a shale gas reserve of 4.44 trillion cubic meters – according to an official with the provincial land and resources department.

The basins of Erdos and Qinshui are rich in shale gas, and the thickness and high content of organic carbon and brittle minerals are suitable for exploration, the survey has found.

“Exploration of shale gas will help reduce the dependence on coal and cut carbon dioxide emissions,” said the official.

It is not yet known whether the Shanxi province will give the prolific Fuling gas field in Chongqing province (south of Shanxi) a run for its money as no exploration has been undertaken in the area.

With verified proven reserves of nearly 107 billion cubic metres, Fuling field is the country’s largest unconventional gas field. Cumulative shale gas production as of June 30, 2015 from Fuling field stood at 2.214 billion cubic meters and 2.036 billion cubic meters of shale gas were marketed from the Fuling area.

China is estimated to have 31,573 billion cubic metres (1,115 trillion cubic feet) of gas – the largest shale gas reserves in the world.

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