China Plans Shale-Gas Investment Floor to Tap Largest Reserves
China, holder of the world’s biggest shale-gas reserves, plans to speed up exploration of the resource by asking companies including PetroChina Co. (857) invest three times the minimum amount sought for crude oil areas.
The Ministry of Land and Resources is drafting rules that will allow it to seize blocks from companies that fail to invest at least 30,000 yuan ($4,747) per square kilometer annually, Zhang Jianfeng, a director at the ministry’s research institute, said in an interview today. Explorers will have three years to meet the requirement, he said.
China holds 25.08 trillion cubic meters of exploitable reserves of the unconventional fuel trapped in shale rock, the ministry said March 1, citing a nationwide survey. The government has pledged to prioritize land approvals, allow tax- free equipment imports and offer subsidies to explorers.
The policy “will certainly prevent companies from sitting on acreage,” Neil Beveridge, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., said in an e-mail.
The proposed rules will be similar to those for conventional oil and gas exploration, where the minimum annual investment requirement is set at 10,000 yuan per square kilometer, Zhang said in Beijing, while attending a two-day Shale Gas Summit organized by Centre for Management Technology.
More than 100 Chinese companies have qualified to participate in China’s second auction of shale exploration area, which will likely be held before July, the official said. The government will offer at least 20 areas, he said.
Overseas companies will remain barred from bidding directly and can invest in ventures led by local explorers, Zhang said.
The Chinese government will hold one or two auctions of shale-gas blocks this year, the land ministry said on March 1. China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. (386), the nation’s second-largest oil company, and Henan Provincial Coal Seam Gas Development and Utilization Co. won the rights to explore two areas in the country’s first shale-gas auction in June.
Cnooc Ltd. (883), which has started exploring its first shale-gas site in China, plans to increase investments in North American shale projects to acquire technology to develop domestic fields, Chairman Wang Yilin said on March 5.
China National Petroleum Corp., the parent of Hong Kong- listed PetroChina, agreed in June to form a venture with Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA) to improve its drilling efficiency after taking 11 months to complete the nation’s first shale well.
The country aims to produce 6.5 billion cubic meters of shale gas annually by 2015 and ramp up output to between 60 billion and 100 billion by the end of the decade, the National Development and Reform Commission said, citing a plan drafted by the National Energy Administration.
China has yet to produce shale gas commercially as its explorers struggle to overcome the lack of domestic drilling expertise and geology that is tougher than in the U.S., where output has surged 15-fold in the past decade. A “breakthrough” would be needed by 2015 for the country to achieve its targets, the Energy Administration said on March 16.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Amit Prakash at firstname.lastname@example.org
Bloomberg moderates all comments. Comments that are abusive or off-topic will not be posted to the site. Excessively long comments may be moderated as well. Bloomberg cannot facilitate requests to remove comments or explain individual moderation decisions.