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Unconventional Oil & Gas Resources

Unconventional oil and gas resources mainly refer to CBM, oil sands, oil shale, shale gas and combustible ice. We are actively promoting the mass development of CBM and resources evaluation of oil shale, oil sands and shale gas, etc.

CNPC has made remarkable progress in the exploration and development of unconventional oil and gas in recent years. As a number of production blocks and pilot development bases put into operation, our unconventional oil and gas output continued to grow. In 2018, we saw new achievements in exploration of coalbed methane, shale oil/shale gas and tight oil/tight gas, accelerated capacity building and wider application of innovative key and supporting technologies. Unconventional hydrocarbon, as an important alternative source of energy, are accounting for an increasingly larger share in our newly added proven reserves.


CNPC set up a CBM Lab in 1989 for research purposes. An overall evaluation of China's CBM resources started in 1992. We have selected Qinshui Basin, Ordos Basin, Junggar Basin and Erlian Basin as the prospective regions to look for "sweet spots" of CBM in the coal-enriched shallow and middle layers. CNPC's CBM development in the Qinshui Basin of Shanxi Province has already taken shape.

Qinshui Basin in Shanxi Province is known as one of world's largest high-coal-rank CBM reservoirs and the only proven uncompartmentalized CBM reservoir in China. CNPC has identified 2.9tcm of CBM resources and 390.4bcm proven OGIP in the Qinshui and Ordos basins. In 2018, CNCP produced 1.93 bcm of CBM.

Oil shale

CNPC's oil shale exploration activities are mainly carried out in sedimentary basins such as the northern part of Songliao Basin, Liushuhe Basin and Yin'e Basin. The activities have produced positive results on different levels. The oil shale in the northern part of Songliao Basin is found to be 5 meters thick on average with a maximum layer thickness of 24 meters and an average oil content of 7%.

Shale gas

CNPC has identified approximately 7 tcm of shale gas resources, mainly in the Sichuan Basin. We have built two national shale gas demonstration bases and are accelerating shale gas development through cooperation with both domestic and international partners, risk operation, and independent operation.

CNPC launched shale gas pilot development at two blocks in Weiyuan-Changning in Sichuan Province and Zhaotong in Yunnan Province in 2010 and 2011 successively.

Shale gas production capacity in two national demonstration projects in Changning-Weiyuan and Zhaotong has moved up steadily over the years, thanks to an integrated approach to geologic engineering, growing output per well and improved construction efficiency. We produced 4.26 billion cubic meters of shale gas in 2018, jumping 41.2% year-on-year.

Tight oil/gas

The abundant tight oil potential in China's Ordos, Junggar, Songliao, Sichuan, and Qaidam and Santanghu basins provides a solid resource base for our oil and gas development. We made progress in the R&D of tight oil exploration and development technologies, facilitating the large scale development of those basins.

We primarily developed tight oil using long horizontal intervals, casing cementing, fast drillable bridge plugs, high-flowrate operation, and SRV fracturing technologies. Additionally, we strengthened application of CO2/sand dry fracturing and large-displacement fissure control SRV fracturing, resulting in increased tight oil/gas production and profits.

At Changqing Oilfield, main technologies for developing I+II+III strata have taken shape, and three horizontal well SRV fracturing test blocks and three pilot development areas for tight oil production have been in place and saw remarkable increase in the per-well output. At Xinjiang Oilfield, profitable development was promoted further in the Mahu Sag and progress was made in production capacity evaluation in the Jimsar Sag. At Daqing Oilfield, 10 of its 14 tight oil test blocks were completed and went on stream, capable of producing 200,000 tons per year. In Shanxi Province, tight gas exploration activities reported major breakthroughs at the Daning-Jixian Block, and high yield gas flows were obtained from a number of test wells in the Hedong and Hexi areas.