Sinopec Natural Gas Appraisal Well China
A file photograph of Sinopec's natural gas appraisal well in Sichuan province, China. Reuters

China is preparing to establish its own shale gas revolution as it attempts to overtake the US by spending four times as much as the States in developing fields.

The world's most populous nation and its second-largest economy is also the largest holder of natural gas confined in shale rock formations.

State-owned Sinopec's estimate that it will spend an average of $10m (£6m, €7.3m) per well at its Fuling site is almost four times the amount spent on a well in parts of the US, where costs on the lower-side hover at $2.6m a well, according to a report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).

China is expected to pump billions of dollars into shale gas exploration and extraction in order to pull alongside the US, the shale leader that enjoys an almost ten-year head start in developing the energy resource, the document added.

However, Sinopec's drilling costs are expected to drop as it increases production to meet Beijing's target of 6.5 billion cubic meters of gas a year by 2015.

Pollution Control

Beijing's shale gas push is part of the drive to reduce the nation's dependence on coal-fired power plants, a move that will improve air quality in the world's biggest carbon emitter.

The Communist regime proposes to increase natural gas consumption to 9% of its total energy demand by 2017, up from 5.2% in 2013, and restrain coal consumption to below 65%, according to a 16 May statement from China's top economic planning agency.

China holds 1,115 trillion cubic feet (31.2 trillion cubic meters) of technically extractable shale gas reserves, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimated in 2013. By comparison, America has about 665 trillion cubic feet (18.6 trillion cubic meters).

However, in contrast to China's target of 6.5 billion cubic meters of gas, the US produced about 300 billion in 2012, according to EIA data.