China shale boom still a distant dream

An abundant source of domestic energy is obviously appealing to policymakers in Beijing, but China is still years away from exploiting the opportunity.
PetroChina paid Encana $2.1 billion in December for a 49.9% interest in an undeveloped shale asset in Alberta, Canada.
PetroChina paid Encana $2.1 billion in December for a 49.9% interest in an undeveloped shale asset in Alberta, Canada.

The US natural gas boom is a game changer according to many energy analysts. But it is unlikely that other countries, especially China, will be able to repeat the American experience despite grand ambitions and billions of dollars of investment.

Hydraulic fracturing has allowed US energy companies to extract abundant new supplies from shale deposits thousands of metres below the surface, lowering the domestic cost of energy and reducing America’s reliance on foreign oil.

According to consultancy McKinsey, this windfall will add as much as $690 billion a year to the US economy and could create 1.7 million new jobs by 2020.

“The...

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