New gas pit test in South China Sea may make country less reliant on imports: expert

Source:Global Times Published: 2019/12/1 19:28:39

The Xingwang deep-sea semi-submersible drilling platform at the Liwan 3-2 gas field in the South China Sea. Photo: Xinhua

A large natural gas field was recently tested in the South China Sea near Hainan Island, and an analyst said over the weekend that the potential production of gas will make China less reliant on energy imports.

The Yongle 8-3-1 exploration well has been successfully tested in the eastern part of the deep waters of the Qiongdongnan Basin, located southeast of the Hainan Island, according to China National Offshore Oil Corp, said in a report.

The company said that it obtained a high-quality natural gas flows of 1 million cubic meters, setting a new record for the testing capacity of natural gas in submerged hills and marking a major breakthrough in the exploration of deep-water gas in China.

Dong Xiucheng, director of the China Oil & Gas Center with the China University of Petroleum, said that the discovery indicates potentially large reserves, which will markedly increase domestic gas supplies and make China less reliant on imports.

"China's supply of natural gas is far smaller than demand and is heavily dependent on imports. It is necessary to develop new gas fields," Dong told the Global Times on Sunday.

China imported 77.71 million tons of natural gas from January to October, an increase of 7.9 percent year-on-year, making China the world's largest natural gas importer, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). 

"Natural gas is one form of carbon energy, a relatively cleaner alternative to oil and coal," said Dong, as China imports more and more oil and coal.

From January to October, China's coal imports totaled 280 million tons, up 9.6 percent on a yearly basis and crude oil imports reached 414.54 million tons, up 10.5 percent year-on-year, data from the NBS showed.

"Using clean energy is one of the most important ways to deal with climate change. China has been vigorously developing clean energy to contribute to the overall improvement of the earth's environment," Dong noted.

The newly tested well is about 180 kilometers southeast of the Hainan Island and the rig will operate at a depth of 1,831 meters.

"Deep-sea exploration is very difficult as ocean rocks and huge temperature differences are very complicated. China has made great progress in deep-sea exploration and has reached world-class levels," said Dong.

China has developed the technology to explore high-temperature and high-pressure marine gas fields, which has been exported for use in the Gulf of Mexico, the UK North Sea and gas fields in Iraq, the Xinhua News Agency reported in 2018, citing Li Zhong, a chief engineer from the China National Offshore Oil Corp.


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