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While Europe Sleeps, China’s Shale Revolution Could Surpass US

China is set for a shale gas revolution which will surpass that seen in the United States, the chairman of Sinopec, the country’s second-largest oil company, said a day after Reuters revealed Royal Dutch Shell Plc had begun shale gas production in China.

Fu Chengyu, chairman of state-controlled China Petroleum & Chemical Corp (Sinopec) , said it could take five to 10 years but that China’s output would exceed that of the United States.

“I think the total reserves are even more than the U.S. so production is not less than the U.S., but it is a matter of timing,” he told reporters at the sidelines of the World Petroleum Congress.

U.S. energy markets were fundamentally changed by the development of shale gas. In the space of several years, the country went from natural gas shortages to a point where companies are planning to export gas to Asia, and are now looking at new uses for the abundant gas, such as auto fuel.

Earlier this week, Yuzhang Liu, a senior official with Shell’s partner PetroChina, a unit of the country’s top energy group, state-owned CNPC, said the Anglo-Dutch oil major had begun shale gas production in China.

Currently, a number of companies are exploring for shale gas potential in China but there is no commercial shale gas production.

A U.S. Energy Information Administration report in April said China had 1,275 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of technically recoverable shale gas resources — by far the largest in the world, followed by the United States with 862 tcf and Argentina with 774 tcf.

Fu added China planned to learn from the U.S. experience to avoid some of the problems that arose there around water supplies and shale drilling.

Reuters, 7 December 2011