China Dismisses the Environment in Pursuit of Shale Boom

A recent report by the independent publication Caixin, investigated China’s plans to develop its fracking industry. According to a white paper that the report looks at, China’s government “calls for ramping up the industry and pumping 6.5 billion cubic meters of natural gas from underground shale formations by 2015.”

China loves the idea of fracking because it offers a low carbon alternative to coal, which currently provides about 70% of the nation’s energy needs.

The US already has its own huge shale gas industry so really there should be no problem if China wishes to develop their own; however there is when China give no regard for ground water protection, or other environmental safety measures.

Worryingly Caixin held interviews with industry sources, government officials, and environmental campaigners, and found out that fracking in China has come under little pressure or scrutiny compared to in the US, and was “much less addressed by the Chinese government or controlled via environmental laws.”

Related Article: Let the Fracking Begin in Europe – Very Cautiously

The biggest threat that facking holds is to China’s meagre water resources. China has about 20% of the world’s population, but only 6% of the world water, making it one of the water-poorest countries in the world. This water shortage is only exacerbated by the fact that 40% of China’s rivers are heavily polluted.

In order to achieve the government’s production target of 6.5 billion cubic metres of natural gas by 2015, around 1,380 wells must be drilled across the country, requiring 13.8 million cubic metres of water, and as the report states, “most of the nation’s shale gas lies in areas plagued by water shortages.”

This piece is cross-posted from Oil with permission.

2 Responses to "China Dismisses the Environment in Pursuit of Shale Boom"

  1. Peter Schaeffer   December 4, 2012 at 4:34 pm


    "I am no expert and I’m certainly not going to go into the pros and cons of fracking here but can fracking really lead to water shortages? China already faces a water crisis but 13.8 million cubic metres is a tiny drop in the ocean in a country that currently uses 599 billion cubic metres of water a year – so initial fracking would use 0.0023% of the water supply in China."

  2. James Brown   December 4, 2012 at 11:40 pm

    Fracking forces geological fractures and fractures may connect aquifers with good water to those with saline water. Hence fracking can make aquifers unusable for consumption. Some aquifers are large geographically and may constitute very valuable resources. Often there are little data about the extent and interconnection of aquifers so that the risk of fracking is often largely unknown until after the event.