Natural gas consists of conventional natural gas and unconventional natural gas. Shale gas is included in unconventional natural gas. Compared with conventional natural gas, shale gas is featured with low abundance, low porosity and permeability, low recovery ratio, large reserves and long lifespan of a single well.
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The global shale gas resources are mainly distributed in North America and Asia. In 2011, the exploitable shale gas resources in North America and Asia accounted for 29% and 27% respectively.
The United States is the earliest and most successful country in the development of shale gas. In 2011, its shale gas output shared 27.8% of the country’s natural gas output, thereby making its self-sufficiency rate of natural gas rise to 94.4% and its import volume drop significantly. The success of the United States has prompted the world's major countries to enhance shale gas exploration and development.
China always uses coal as energy. In China’s energy consumption, coal accounts for over 60%, while natural gas only about 5%, far below the world average, so coal has huge development potentials in China. In recent years, China’s demand for natural gas has witnessed rapid growth, but the output growth has been slow, so that China depends on the import of natural gas heavily. In 2012, 26.2% of the natural gas in China was imported. To reduce the risk incurred by the high reliance and ease the contradiction between supply and demand, China is accelerating the exploration and development of shale gas and other unconventional natural gas.
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In 2012, China’s potential volume of mineable shale gas hit 25 trillion cubic meters (excluding the shale gas in the Qinghai and Tibet), same with that of China’s land conventional natural gas.
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