BEIJING, Jan 8 (Reuters) – Top world energy consumer China is expected to double output of oil and gas to nearly 700 million tonnes of oil equivalent by 2030 as available resources rise, the Ministry of Land and Resources said on Wednesday.
Decades of breakneck economic growth pushed China ahead of the United States to become the world's top net oil importer in September, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has said, a position China is set to keep through 2014.
With energy demand still increasing, Beijing is desperate to reduce the risk of growing import dependency by raising domestic production as quickly as it can.
China's oil and gas production in 2013 rose 4.6 percent from the previous year to 320 million tonnes of oil equivalent, the land ministry said on its website (www.mlr.gov.cn).
Of the total, oil production rose by a relatively slow 1.8 percent to 210 million tonnes last year, while gas output rose 9.8 percent to 120.9 billion cubic metres (bcm), including 117.7 bcm of conventional natural gas production, 3 bcm of coalbed methane and 200 million cubic metres of shale gas.
With most of its oilfields already exploited and some starting to become depleted, China has been focusing on boosting gas production, a cleaner alternative to coal, reserves of which remain relatively underdeveloped in the country.
Geological oil resources in China stood at 103.7 billion tonnes by the end of 2013, up 36 percent from 2007, while geological natural gas resources rose 77 percent from 2007 to 62 trillion cubic metres.
However, the ministry said a quarter of the oil resources and three-fifths of the gas are buried more than 3,500 metres underground, with much of that located in very remote regions, making it harder and more expensive to develop.
China could add 22 billion tonnes of proven geological oil reserves by 2030 and add 12 trillion cubic metres of proven geological gas reserves, it said.
As reserves are replenished, crude oil output could stay at more than 200 million tonnes a year through 2030, with peak production hitting 250 million, it said.
Gas production is expected to rise 10 bcm annually to 300 bcm in 2030 and make up half of China's oil and gas production by around 2025, it said.
Production of unconventional gas, including shale gas, coal bed methane and tight gas, is estimated to account for a third of China's oil and gas production in 2030, it added.
(Reporting by Judy Hua and David Stanway; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)
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