A PetroChina affiliate has reported record volumes of natural gas at a shale exploration well in the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan. Output of 1.38 mcm per day from test drilling marked the company’s first shale gas well to exceed the 1 mcm mark, it said.
The news comes as PetroChina has been stepping up efforts to boost shale gas production in the region, despite mounting public concerns over increased seismic activity there.
The Lu-203 test well, located in the village of Leida, Luzhou City, was drilled by PetroChina Southwest Oil and Gasfield to a depth of 4,000 metres, the state-run People’s Daily reported on March 7. PetroChina also drilled a 1,500-metre long horizontal lateral, the newspaper said.
PetroChina, the listed arm of China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC), has been lagging behind domestic rival Sinopec, which has been leading the country’s push for shale gas. However, PetroChina raised its shale gas output by 40% during 2018 compared with the previous year, thanks to operations in both Sichuan and at Zhaotong, in Yunnan Province.
In late February, PetroChina was forced to suspend shale drilling operations in Rong County, Sichuan, after a series of earthquakes killed two people and damaged nearly 11,000 houses. Sichuan is located at a crossroads of some of the world’s most active fault lines, and a 2008 earthquake there killed over 80,000 people. More research is necessary to determine whether the recent seismic events were actually caused by shale activity. One of the challenges involved in tapping shale gas in Sichuan is the resources’ deep and fractured locations, sometimes at depths of over 3,000 metres below the surface.
CNPC deployed 125 rigs in Sichuan Province last summer in an effort to accelerate its shale development. The company has a multi-billion dollar spending plan to raise capacity to 42 bcm of gas being produced from the region by 2035, as it works to help meet government targets for higher energy output. If this figure is achieved, it would amount to about 15% of China’s current gas consumption.