Huge source of oil, gas found in South China Sea

Monday, January 17, 2011

BEIJING - Chinese geologists have detected “super-thick” oil and gas-rich strata in the South China Sea and also identified 38 offshore oil and gas basins, a media report said Monday.

The outskirts of Songliao basin in northeast China, Yin’e basin in the north and Qiangtang basin on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau have rich oil and gas resources, the China Daily quoted Wang Min, vice-minister of land and resources, as having said at a conference in Beijing.

He said that 192.7 billion tonnes of coal resources have been found in Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, and four 10,000-tonne sandstone-type uranium mines have been located in Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia.

The latest discoveries, particularly those at sea, have given direction for China’s future resource exploration, Wang said.

Comprehensive geological and environmental inspections will be conducted at key offshore areas such as the southern region of Yellow Sea, the northern part of the South China Sea, East China’s Liaodong Bay and regions near South China’s Hainan Island.

Wang said the country has also made a breakthrough in locating new energy resources. Natural gas hydrate has been found for the first time in the northern region of the South China Sea and frozen-soil areas at Qilian Mountain, the report said.

A 2.46-million-tonne lithium carbonate mine has been located in Southwest China’s Tibet autonomous region, which will reduce the cost of lithium production and help with the country’s new energy industry.

Due to China’s rapid economic growth in the past 10 years, the country’s energy consumption has been growing rapidly and become more dependent on imports. China has become the biggest consumer of coal, steel, alumina, copper and cement.

More than half of the country’s petroleum and iron consumption - about 70 percent of its copper consumption and 64 percent of sylvite consumption - now rely on imports, according to figures released by the Ministry of Land and Recourses.

Wang said thanks to the efforts of the geologists, new resources detected in the past 10 years accounted for about half of all resources found in the past half century, and the amount of new resources found each year has surpassed their annual consumption.

By the end of last year, the available reserves of iron and aluminium increased by 41 percent and 39 percent respectively compared with the levels in 1999.

However, China will still experience resource bottlenecks in the future, Wang said. “As a big developing country, we must make more efforts in exploring domestic supplies to ensure our energy security.”

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