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The map that shows China’s coming shale gas boom

Ed Andrieski/AP
Go east, young wildcatter.
CanadaPublished This article is more than 2 years old.

More evidence that the US shale gas boom is changing the nation’s energy landscape: Shale gas accounted for 39% of total natural gas production in 2012, according to statistics released today by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA).

That makes the US the world’s biggest shale gas producer, with 25.7 billion cubic feet a day flowing from its wells.

Canada is the No. 2 shale gas nation, obtaining 15% of its natural gas from hydraulic fracturing, the controversial practice of injecting chemical-laced water into wells under high pressure to fracture rock formations so oil and gas can be extracted. The chart below shows the steep spike in Canadian shale gas production over the past five years.

But forget North America. China holds the world’s largest potentially recoverable reserves of shale gas, according to the EIA. China’s possesses estimated reserves of 1,115 trillion cubic feet versus 665 trillion cubic feet for the US.

Tapping that treasure won’t be easy. Shale gas currently represents less than 1% of China’s natural gas production and the country needs to acquire the technology and know-how to exploit its reserves. Water may be another obstacle. As we’ve written, China’s growing water shortages already threaten the country’s coal-fired power plants, which along with coal mining consume 15% of freshwater supplies.

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