September 23, 2017 / 5:30 AM / a year ago

China's recoverable shale gas reserves fell by 6 percent in 2016: ministry

TIANJIN, China (Reuters) - China’s technologically recoverable shale gas reserves dropped by 6 percent in 2016, the Ministry of Land and Resources said on Saturday, with no new volumes of the unconventional resource added last year.

Reserves stood at 122.41 billion cubic meters at the end of 2016, down from 130.18 Bcm a year earlier, according to a report released by the ministry.

Shale gas was the only one of 22 major minerals listed to add zero newly discovered reserves in 2016, although potash was assigned a negative figure, indicating that some previous reserves were written off.

The numbers suggest China’s efforts to replicate the North American shale gas revolution and reduce a hefty reliance on energy imports are running out of steam.

Almost all of the country’s shale output comes from Sinopec’s Fuling project near Chongqing. Sinopec said in March it plans to boost Fuling’s annual production capacity to 10 Bcm from 7 Bcm. [nL3N1GY376]

A gas field containing shale gas in Guizhou, also in southwest China, was reported to harbor an estimated 100 Bcm of accessible gas when its discovery was announced in July last year, but no new volumes were included in the ministry’s latest shale figures.

There was better news for coalbed methane, however, with remaining technologically recoverable reserves jumping by 9.2 percent to 334.4 Bcm.

Conventional gas reserves were also up, by 4.7 percent to 5.44 trillion cubic meters, while oil reserves nudged up 0.1 percent to 3.501 billion tonnes (25.66 billion barrels), the ministry said.

Reporting by Tom Daly; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman/Mark Heinrich

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