Govt gets heads-up on China’s shale plan

Beijing on $95 bn plan to develop 20,000 wells across the country, to achieve output of 6.5 bn cubic metres per year by 2015.
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Updated on Sep 30, 2012 10:24 PM IST
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Hindustan Times | By Anupama Airy, New Delhi

At a time when India is preparing to offer blocks under its first round of shale gas bidding, its top intelligence agency, RAW, has informed the government of Beijing’s $95-billion-plan to develop huge shale gas reso-urces from 20,000 wells in China.

In a report to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), ministry of external affairs (MEA), the National Security Advisor (NSC) and the petroleum ministry, RAW has cited estimates by China’s Ministry of Land and Resources saying that Beijing holds about 134.42 trillion cubic metres of shale gas reserves, of which 25.08 are recoverable.

“The Chinese government plans to achieve shale gas production of 6.5 billion cubic metres (bcm) annually by 2015 and 60-100 bcm by 2020.” Shale gas refers to natural gas trapped within sedimentary rocks. India is mapping shale resources and will have exploration rules in place by 2013. Then, blocks will be auctioned.

Unlike China that does not allow foreign energy companies to directly bid for its blocks, India intends to allow foreign companies to bid in its first round of licensing. A draft shale gas policy was recently floated by India’s petroleum ministry for talks with industry and other stakeholders. However, China allows foreign firms to jointly explore shale gas resources with local firms.

As per the RAW report, Royal Dutch Shell in tie up with China National Petroleum Corporation plans to spend at least $1 billion per annum to exploit China’s pot-entially vast resources of shale gas and hopes to leverage the operational and technological expertise gained in North Ame-rica. Shell also plans to relocate its global business unit for coal bed methane to China later this year, its first outside Houston.

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