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China to speed up shale gas development: official

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BEIJING, March 24 (Xinhua) -- China aims to make major technological breakthroughs in developing shale gas to optimize the nation' s energy structure, the nation's top energy official said on Thursday.

The National Energy Administration (NEA) is studying a policy of setting up pilot exploration areas and striving to industrialize shale gas as early as possible, NEA's director Liu Tienan said in talks with Peter Voser, Chief Executive Officer of the Royal Dutch Shell Group in Beijing.

Shale gas is an important unconventional source of natural gas. China has exploitable reserves of 26 trillion cubic meters, as much as that found in the United States. The massive stockpiles, however, are largely undeveloped.

Due to shale being difficult to permeate, the exploration process is highly technology-dependent.

According to a national energy strategy studied by NEA and the National Development and Reform Commission, China will select 50 to 80 potential shale gas areas and 20 to 30 exploration areas by 2020. The exploration capacity would hit 1 trillion cubic meters.

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