The latest survey of China’s two main unconventional onshore gas resources has estimated that there are 152 tcm of potentially recoverable reserves. Meanwhile, the country’s undersea methane hydrate potential is thought to stand at 80 billion tonnes of oil equivalent (586 billion boe).
The figures were given by the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) at an international mining conference in Tianjin.
The latest estimates from the China Geological Survey put the volume of shale gas above depths of 4,500 metres at 122 tcm, and CBM above depths of 2,000 metres at 30 tcm, the MNR’s oil and gas resource strategy research centre director, Xie Chengxiang, told the conference.
These figures are much higher than previous estimates but Xie did not say how much shale gas and CBM was thought to be realistically recoverable.
The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) has estimated China’s technically recoverable shale gas reserves at 31 tcm, while Chinese government data previously put the country’s overall CBM reserves at 36 tcm.
The 2018 resource figure for methane hydrates is unchanged from estimates published by the Geological Survey in 2017.
The volume of gas produced to date from unconventional reserves remains low, with operational shale gas fields yielding under 10 bcm in 2017 and CBM projects accounting for about 17 bcm.
This year has seen a major shakeup in China’s administration of natural resources. In March the Ministry of Land and Resources (MLR) was merged into the new MNR. The old ministry had the sole responsibility for creating and awarding shale gas exploration and production licences and had been criticised for the slow opening up of the industry, which is still dominated by state-owned companies. State-owned players also dominate the CBM industry, although several private and foreign businesses have formed joint ventures.