A well test for commercial shale gas in the Huangguashan field in the Sichuan Basin produced “good prospects for exploration and development”, state-owned China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC) has said.
The horizontal well was drilled through deep-seated shale and recovered more than 220,000 cubic metres during the test, CNPC said in a statement.
The field, located in the Bishan-Hejiang block of the Chongqing region, is operated by CNPC subsidiary PetroChina Southwest Oil and Gas Field, Energy China Forum reported.
In June, CNPC said it planned to nearly double shale gas production from the Sichuan Basin this year, aiming for 5.6 bcm compared with about 3 bcm in 2017, independent news outlet Caixin reported. The company would drill over 330 new wells in the basin this year, it said.
The Huangguashan field is still at an early stage of development. CNPC’s most productive block for shale gas is Changning-Weiyuan, which is located in the Sichuan Province’s portion of the Sichuan Basin, adjoining Chongqing.
CNPC gave no other details on drilling in Huangguashan, other than to say the productive well was the first horizontal evaluation of the field.
Although China holds shale gas volumes estimated to be in excess of 300 tcm, much of this resource is inaccessible. In July, the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) said commercially recoverable shale gas volumes stood at 916 bcm, which marked a 60% increase on 2017 estimates.
But much of the gas is embedded in deep, fractured shale pockets – some of which are more than 3,000 metres below surface – and few large reservoirs comparable to those being tapped in the US have been discovered.
Another state-run company, Sinopec, is successfully tapping the largest reservoir found to date – in the Fuling block, which is located in the Chongqing region of the Sichuan Basin. But the company recently admitted it had yet to identify another similarly prolific reserve.
The Chinese government earlier this decade set out a shale gas production target of 60 bcm per year by 2020 but subsequently halved it to 30 bcm when output was slow to take off. However, on current growth, NewsBase Intelligence (NBI) believes it is unlikely that output will even reach 20 bcm per year by the end of the decade.