China eyes natgas fracking as path to energy independence

August 31, 2012

China has even more shale gas reserves than the US – about 50% more (the EIA estimates 1.275 trillion cubic feet vs. 862 billion cubic feet in the US).   Chinese leaders recognize the fortune beneath their feet and have made exploitation of their shale gas reserves a focus of the nations 12th Five Year Plan. There is a very good summary of China’s efforts in this analysis from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.

However, although China has much greater shale reserves, they lack the technical expertise to exploit them.  Even more importantly, China is facing a tremendous water crisis, and fracking is highly dependent on water.   Between water scarcity and water pollution driven by the nation’s rapid industrialization, the World Bank estimates that more than 300 million Chinese citizens- equivalent to the entire population of the US – lacks adequate access to clean water supplies.  China has been working to develop non-hydraulic techniques – some of which are the basis of Chimera Energy’s claimed waterless fracking process which is currently being tested for extracting shale oil in Mexico – but they appear to be much less effective than hydraulic fracturing, especially for gas.




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