China and the Global Energy Crisis
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China and the Global Energy Crisis

Development and Prospects for China’s Oil and Natural Gas

Tatsu Kambara and Christopher Howe

This book examines China’s record of oil and gas development, its refining capacity, and energy prospects. The authors conclude that there are no fundamental reasons for anxiety about China’s demands on the world energy economy, but they emphasize that its energy future will depend critically on a continuation of reform and internationalization. China and the Global Energy Crisis is a concise but detailed study of these issues.
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Chapter 4: Natural Gas: China’s New Energy Source

Tatsu Kambara and Christopher Howe


THE BACKGROUND TO NATURAL GAS DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA China’s principal gas-rich sedimentary structures have been in Sichuan Province and the Ordos, Qaidam and Tarim Basins. Of these, the Sichuan Basin is by far the longest established, the other basins being the results of relatively recent exploration and development. In Sichuan, gas resources have been used by the local population, employing primitive technologies, for most of recorded history. The Sichuan Basin is approximately 180 000 km2; it stands 500 metres above sea level, yet is itself enclosed by mountains. The surface of the basin is the famous ‘red soil’ of Sichuan, which, geologically, is Jurassic period sandstone and shale. This soil combines with favourable climatic conditions to support an intensive agriculture. The basin region itself currently supports a population of approximately 100 million people. In the pre-PRC era, these conditions supported both a large population and food exports. In the 1960s, however, conditions deteriorated, food exports gave way to deficits, shortages and serious rural poverty, which were major factors explaining why it was in Sichuan that the Party leadership pioneered agricultural and economic reform experiments in the 1970s. Today, the population of the basin is concentrated on the cities of Chengdu, Zigong and Dukou, while to the south of the province there is also the large city of Chongqing, which, like Shanghai and Beijing, is now administered as an independent entity. There are four main gas-producing areas in the Sichuan Basin: Chuan Nan, Chuan Dong, Chuan Xinan and Chuan Xibei....

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