China outspends U.S. drillers to chase shale-gas boom

May 30, 2014

China’s effort to catch up with the U.S. in developing shale gas and become more energy independent is coming at a big cost: It’s spending four times as much developing some fields, according to a new report, Bloomberg said on May 29.

Holding the world’s biggest potential reserves of natural gas in shale rock, China will spend billions of dollars in trying to close a gap with the shale leader, which is about a decade ahead in developing the energy resource, according to a study by Bloomberg New Energy Finance released yesterday.

The emergence of shale projects in Asia and Europe affects global gas and oil prices and is changing the energy agendas of governments from London to Beijing. In China, leaders mandated national targets for their producers such as state-owned China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. (386), known as Sinopec.

“For the government, shale is one of the highest priorities, and Sinopec is looking to distinguish itself by making gains in shale,” Xiaolei Cao, an analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said in an interview.

Sinopec’s estimate that it will spend an average of $10 million per well at its Fuling site compares with costs as low as $2.6 million a well in parts of the U.S., BNEF said.

The chasm will narrow going forward. Sinopec’s drilling costs will fall as it ramps up production to meet the government’s target of 6.5 billion cubic meters a year by 2015. Analysts say that goal is increasingly within reach after massive investments by China and overcoming technological hurdles.

Copyright: Bloomberg, 2014