Development and Prospects for China’s Oil and Natural Gas
5. The Tarim Basin: solution or problem? HOW BIG AN ASSET ARE THE TARIM OIL AND GAS RESERVES? The huge size of China’s potential oil and gas reserves has not been in question since the 1950s. However, the enormous scale and variety of China’s terrain and the intrinsic diﬃculties of precise estimation are so great that serious uncertainties about the extent and character of reserves have remained, long after early big discoveries were being exploited. Geophysical surveys and preliminary testing still have far to go before they can be regarded as anywhere near complete. Further, indispensable as these tools are, only when full development and production get under way will the full picture of China’s reserves be understood. Exploration for oil and gas started in China’s western regions as early as the 1950s, at which time the Karamai ﬁelds were discovered. In the ensuing decades, the main focus was on the search for on- and oﬀshore resources in the Songliao and Bohai Basins of eastern China. Indeed, the 1950s to the 1980s might well be called the golden age of petroleum development in the east. During these years, the exploration of the west, hindered as it was by logistical and other diﬃculties, remained a lower priority. The Tarim is a sedimentary basin located in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Its scale is enormous. It extends over 560 000 km2 and has a maximum length (east to west) of 1820 km and a depth (north to south) of...
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