Report says water shortages complicate China’s plans to tap enormous shale gas reserves

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BEIJING, China – More than 60 per cent of China’s vast shale gas deposits are in regions with scarce water resources, complicating plans by the energy-hungry country to tap the natural gas, according to a U.S.-based research group.

The World Resources Institute said China has the world’s largest reserves of natural gas trapped in deep shale rock but most of it is in arid areas such as deserts or regions where farming and industry already stress water resources. Commonly known as fracking, shale gas mining requires pumping large quantities of water mixed with chemicals into deep wells to break apart shale rock.

The institute said in a report issued Tuesday that 38 per cent of the world’s shale gas deposits are in areas with scarce water. China, Argentina and Algeria have the world’s biggest shale gas deposits.

China is seeking to tap its shale gas deposits to help power a growing economy and move away from polluting coal-fired energy plants. Yet the country is also suffering its worst drought in half a century, with much of China’s agricultural central provinces hit especially hard.

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