China Seeking More Oil Reserves

April 5, 2007 Updated: April 5, 2007

CHINA— On March 29 China Net ( reported that the Ministry of Land and Resources had surveyed China's largest, state-owned, oil and gas companies, PetroChina Co., China Petroleum and Chemical Corp., China National Offshore Oil Ltd., plus other smaller companies, to determine the levels of exploitable oil and gas reserves. Their findings showed that at the end of last year, the remaining, economically recoverable, oil and natural gas reserves in China was 2.04 billion tons and 2.45 trillion cubic meters respectively.

China has become the world's second largest importer of oil, the United States is first, with imports accounting for 47 percent of consumption. Unless more reserves are found, the current exploitable oil reserves can only last for 11 years.

In 2004, the Ministry of Land and Resources made a major revision to the classification of oil and gas reserves and launched a new national standard for measuring oil and gas resources and reserves. The new classification retained the old definition of explored geological reserves and set up two new classifications – the explored technical recoverable reserve and economically recoverable reserve. Also, for the first time, the concept of newly explored economically recoverable reserves was established.

Based on the 2006 survey, China's newly explored economically recoverable oil and gas was estimated at 172 million tons and 293.57 billion cubic meters respectively. These are the first figures published since the introduction of the new oil and gas reserves gauging methods.

China's newly explored geological oil, at 949 million tons is, up a mere 1.6 percent from the previous year. Its newly explored technical recoverable oil is 195 million tons, a 10.8 percent increase from last year. Each of six basins in China have over 10 million tons of newly-explored economically recoverable oil—the Bohai, the Songliao, Ordos, Tarim, Junggar and Bohai Bay Basins.

As for natural gas, the newly explored geological natural reserve is 581.6 billion cubic meters, a 6.2 percent decrease from last year. The three basins in China that each have over 10 billion cubic meters of newly-explored economically recoverable gas—the Sichuan, the Tarim, and the Ordos Basins.