State of Shale Gas Technology in China

State of Shale Gas Technology in China

Author: Veronika Belusa

China has massive shale gas resources. 15.3 % of the worldwide reserves are estimated to be in China. However, in contrast to the significant progress China made in the development of alternative energy sources such as solar and wind power, their exploitation of shale gas is at a very early stage.

Mier Zhang, Dalian University of Technology, Dalian, China, and colleagues have analyzed patents related to shale gas exploitation in China by using data mining and patent maps. Shale gas exploitation involves complex technologies and technological accumulation is a long term process. The patent analysis shows that compared with US firms, significant technology gaps exist for Chinese enterprises. Technology could be the bottleneck of China’s exploitation for its shale gas resources which might limit its exploitation in the near future.

Foreign companies, in particular from USA, have applied for many patents in China and possess strategic advantages over Chinese enterprises. For Chinese enterprises it might be difficult to bypass patents held by foreign enterprises for shale gas exploitation due to the high complexity of the technology. Therefore, they might have to reach cross-licensing agreements with foreign patent holders.


This is an article of the special issue of Energy Technology on Shale Gas Technology edited by Götz Veser, University of Pittsburgh, PA, USA. The issue brings together experts that highlight some of the key technological, environmental, economic, and political issues surrounding shale gas developments around the world.

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