Shale Gas Development and Environmental Governance in China

  • Meiyu Guo
  • Yuan Xu
Part of the International Political Economy Series book series (IPES)


Facing immense pressure to solve environmental problems due to domestic air pollution and international climate change, China has identified natural gas as a critical alternative to replace coal, the dirtiest yet most abundant fuel in China’s energy mix. With limited domestic resources of conventional natural gas and security concerns of international import, China has kept a keen eye on the shale gas success in the United States and its own vast untapped resource base. This chapter examines its shale gas development in the past decade. After a discussion on the development of shale gas at national and international levels, we will explore the local situations in greater detail in Sichuan and Tarim Basins, the largest two shale gas basins in the country. Multiple interests—domestic, international, industrial, technological, governmental and environmental—have been interacting with each other to shape the evolution and explain the current development status.


Shale gas development State-owned oil companies China 


  1. BP. 2016. BP Statistical Review of World Energy. London.Google Scholar
  2. Brown, S.P., S.A. Gabriel, and R. Egging. 2010. Abundant Shale Gas Resources: Some Implications for Energy Policy. Washington, DC: Resources for the Future.Google Scholar
  3. Chen, Y., A. Ebenstein, M. Greenstone, and H. Li. 2013. Evidence on the Impact of Sustained Exposure to Air Pollution on Life Expectancy from China’s Huai River Policy. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110: 12936–12941.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. China’s Meteorological Administration. 2014. Cause Analysis in Response to the Smog in China [Online]. Available:
  5. ChinaDaily. 2014. Smog Breeds Discontent, Public Send Critical Letters to the Mayor in Zhengzhou [Online]. Available:
  6. Duncan, D.C., and V.E. Swanson. 1965. Organic-Rich Shale of the United States and World Land Areas. Washington, DC: Geological Survey Circular.Google Scholar
  7. Feng, K., K. Hubacek, Y.L. Siu, and X. Li. 2014. The Energy and Water Nexus in Chinese Electricity Production: A Hybrid Life Cycle Analysis. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 39: 342–355.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Guo, M., Y. Xu, and Y.D. Chen. 2014. Fracking and Pollution: Can China Rescue Its Environment in Time? Environmental Science & Technology 42: 891–892.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Guo, M., X. Lu, C.P. Nielsen, M.B. Mcelroy, W. Shi, Y. Chen, and Y. Xu. 2016. Prospects for Shale Gas Production in China: Implications for Water Demand. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 66: 742–750.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Holditch, S.A. 2007. Unconventional Gas, Working Document of the NPC Global Oil & Gas Study.Google Scholar
  11. Hunter, C.D., and D.M. Young. 1953. Relationship of Natural Gas Occurrence and Production in Eastern Kentucky (Big Sandy Gas Field) to Joints and Fractures in Devonian Bituminous Shale. AAPG Bulletin 37: 282–299.Google Scholar
  12. Industry Research Information Bank. 2016. China’s Shale Gas Development Prospective in the 13th Five-Year Period [Online]. Available:
  13. International Energy Agency. 2009. World Energy Outlook 2009. Paris: IEA.Google Scholar
  14. King, G.E. 2012. Hydraulic Fracturing 101: What Every Representative, Environmentalist, Regulator, Reporter, Investor, University Researcher, Neighbor and Engineer Should Know About Estimating Frac Risk and Improving Frac Performance in Unconventional Gas and Oil Wells. In SPE Hydraulic Fracturing Technology Conference, Society of Petroleum Engineers.Google Scholar
  15. Landler, M. 2014. U.S. and China Reach Climate Accord After Months of Talks [Online]. Beijing: The New York Times. Available:
  16. Ministry of Finance and National Energy Administration. 2012. A Notice on Subsidy Policy for Shale Gas Development and Production [Online]. Available:
  17. Ministry of Land and Resources. 2011. Newly Discovered Mineral Announcement [Online]. Available:
  18. ———. 2012. Notice of Auctions for Shale Gas Exploration Rights [Online]. Beijing. Available:
  19. ———. 2013. 16 Companies Won the Bid in the Second Round Bidding of Shale Gas Exploration Rights [Online]. Available:
  20. ———. 2014. Punishment Results for Under-Spending on Shale Gas Exploration Rights Blocks [Online]. Available:
  21. ———. 2015. National Shale Gas Resource Investigation Report (2014) [Online]. Available:
  22. ———. 2016. 2015 National Oil and Gas Exploration Results Briefing [Online]. Available:
  23. MIT. 2011. Supplementary Paper SP2.3: Role of Technology in Unconventional Gas Resources. The Future of Natural Gas. Google Scholar
  24. Montgomery, C.T., and M.B. Smith. 2010. Hydraulic Fracturing: History of an Enduring Technology. Journal of Petroleum Technology 62: 26–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. National Energy Administration. 2016. Shale Gas Development Plan (2016–2020) [Online]. Available:
  26. Sandolow, D., J. Wu, Q. Yang, A. Hove, and J. Lin. 2014. Meeting China’s Shale Gas Goals. Columbia: Center on Global Energy Policy.Google Scholar
  27. Sichuan Provincial People’s Government. 2016. PetrolChina’s First State Shale Gas Demonstration Area Reached Production Capacity of 2 Billion m 3 [Online]. Available:
  28. SinaFinance. 2015. Sinopec Completed 5 Billion Capacity Construction Phase One [Online]. Available:
  29. Sinopec. 2014a. China’s First Large-Scale Shale Gas Field Enters into Commercial Production Ahead of Schedule [Online]. Available:
  30. ———. 2014b. Sinopec’s 2013 Annual Results Announcement [Online]. Available:
  31. Speight, J.G. 2013. Shale Gas Production Processes. Oxford: Gulf Professional Publishing.Google Scholar
  32. Sun, Y., X. Zhang, F.W. Zwiers, L. Song, H. Wan, T. Hu, H. Yin, and G. Ren. 2014. Rapid Increase in the Risk of Extreme Summer Heat in Eastern China. Nature Climate Change 4 (12): 1082.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. The State Council. 2014. China’s Energy Development Strategy Action Plan (2014–2020) [Online]. Available:
  34. The World Bank. 2016. CO 2 Emissions (kt) [Online]. Available:
  35. Trembath, A., J. Jenkins, T. Nordhaus, and M. Shellenberger. 2012. Where the Shale Gas Revolution Came From. The Breakthrough Institute, 23.Google Scholar
  36. U.S. Energy Information Administration. 2011. World Shale Gas Resources: An Initial Assessment of 14 Regions Outside the United States. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Energy.Google Scholar
  37. ———. 2013. Technically Recoverable Shale Oil and Shale Gas Resources: An Assessment of 137 Shale Formations in 41 Countries Outside the United States. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Energy.Google Scholar
  38. Yost, A.B. 1988. Eastern Gas Shales Research. Morgantown Energy Technology Center.Google Scholar
  39. Yu, D. 2013. Blocks in the Second Auction Enter into Drilling Period [Online]. Available:
  40. Zero Power Intelligence. 2014. Annual Research and Consultation Report of Panorama Survey and Investment Strategy on China Industry [Online]. Available:
  41. Zhang, H., S. Jia, and J. Fan. 2012. The Major Pollutants Estimate Analysis of Gas and Coal Power Plants. Environmental Engineering 30: 59–62.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Meiyu Guo
    • 1
  • Yuan Xu
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of GeographyHong Kong Baptist UniversitySha TinHong Kong
  2. 2.Department of Geography and Resource Management and Institute of Environment, Energy and SustainabilityThe Chinese University of Hong KongSha TinHong Kong

Personalised recommendations