China, the world's biggest energy user, is also one of the nations with the largest reserves of shale gas. According to government estimates, China has explorable shale gas reserves of about 25.1 trillion cubic meters, which on paper means that based on current gas consumption, there are enough gas stocks to last for the next two centuries.
China is beginning to understand the blessings of shale gas:
There is now a growing urgency in Beijing to further encourage the development of unconventional energy sources as it believes such steps are essential to help reduce carbon emissions and costly gas imports.
Shale gas remains an integral part of the overall energy strategy and the government has outlined a plan that will see China producing 60 to 100 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually by 2020 from shale sources.
Natural gas is the practical solution to China's long-term energy requirements, as other unconventional sources like wind and solar power have proved to be expensive propositions, Chen says.
Though China has the largest installed capacity in wind turbines and is the largest maker of solar panels in the world, it is not safe for the energy-hungry nation to solely focus on renewable energies, experts say.
Energy demand is expected to jump sharply by 2030, when China becomes the largest economy in the world, experts say. According to the BP Energy Outlook 2030 released in January, China's energy consumption in 2030 will be more than the combined demand of the US and Europe.
During the same period the energy deficit between China's own production and consumption is expected to jump six-fold over that of 2010, according to the report. China already imports more than 55 percent of its oil requirements and 20 percent of its natural gas requirements. The over-reliance on costly fuel imports will impact long-term growth and development prospects, experts say.
"There is no country in the world that wants to be reliant on other nations for energy supplies. The reasons for this are both economical and political," says Howard Rogers, director of the Natural Gas Research Programme at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies in Oxford, United Kingdom.
Expensive energy imports put nations in a vulnerable position, especially when there is political turbulence across the world, says Youn-kyoo Kim, associate professor of International Studies at the Seoul-based Hanyang University in South Korea.
"The US success in shale gas has already made it less reliant on imports from the Middle East. Like the US, if China achieves a shale gas revolution it will also be less reliant on costly gas imports from Russia and the Middle East. It could also pave the way for a new cooperation mechanism in Northeast Asia," Kim says.
The shale gas revolution has helped the US to become the leading nation in terms of natural gas stocks and also cut its oil imports from 60 percent of total consumption in 2005 to 46 percent. Over the next five years, the US is also set to be a leading exporter of natural gas.
"I think China is very impressed by what has happened in the US shale sector and would like to replicate that success. However, I think it will be some time before China can achieve significant volumes of shale gas output," says Rogers from the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies.
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China´s intention to dramatically intensify shale gas exploration is of course bad news for Putin and Gazprom. The Russian energy giant will not be able to sell as much gas to its eastern neighbor as it had hoped to do.
And by the way, Oxford´s Rogers is probably not entirely right when saying that "no country in the world wants to be reliant on other nations for energy supplies". Germany for example appears to favor a policy that makes it reliant on Russian energy supplies.