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Sichuan drive for CNPC

China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) is stepping up the pace of shale gas development at its flagship Chang-ning asset in south-west China’s Sichuan basin, mobilising dozens of rigs in a campaign aiming to boost daily gas throughput by 50% by the end of this year.

CNPC is on track to complete 88 new development wells at the Changning shale gas play, covering the Gongxian, Xingwen, Junlian and Changning areas.

It aims to boost shale gas production to 15 million cubic metres per day from more than 200 wells by the end of the year, up from the 10 MMcmd registered in late May.

In late May, CNPC brought two new wells — 209H10-2 and H25-7 —on stream, boosting gas throughput to more than 10 MMcmd, a target that was achieved 40 days ahead of schedule.

The Changning drive is being spearheaded by Chang-ning Shale Gas Development Company, set up in 2013, in which CNPC holds a 55% stake.

Its partners include Sichuan Energy Group on 30%, Yibin State-Owned Assets Operation Company on 10% and Beijing Guolian Energy Investment Fund on 5%.

CNPC drilled China’s first commercial shale gas well at Changning in 2011, with the 201-H1 well flowing 150,000 cubic metres per day of shale gas per day.

Changning operations experienced a hiccup late last year when an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.7 hit the field on 16 December, prompting CNPC to close drilling and fracking activities.

However, production resumed soon after.

Changning’s development forms part of a larger campaign launched by CNPC in southern Sichuan, where it is already producing slightly more than 4 Bcm per annum of shale gas.

CNPC has mobilised 150 land rigs to tap shale gas reservoirs deeper than 3500 metres, which is considered a technical hurdle for the company to overcome in the area.

Other technical challenges include fast depletion and complex geology.

The southern part of Sichuan is estimated to hold about 9 trillion cubic metres of potential shale gas reserves.

CNPC plans to build facilities to establish annual shale gas production capacity of 10 Bcm by 2020, which will call for about 300 new wells to be drilled.

Output is targeted to further increase to 30 Bcm by 2030.

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