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Chinese national oil company Sinopec has made a new natural gas discovery in its Zhongjiang field in Sichuan province.

The discovery increases the proved gas reserves at the Zhongjiang field to more than 34 billion cubic metres (bcm). This brings the Sichuan Basin’s total natural gas reserves to 106.1bcm.

Sinopec said that the discovery further promotes its clean energy supply capacity while ensuring energy security for the country.

The firm noted that the discovery will help ‘establish China’s first 100bcm natural gas production base’.

Located in Zhongjiang County of Deyang City, the Zhongjiang Gas Field main gas reservoir has a depth of 2,000m-3,000m.

The 404.9km² gas field is characterised by low porosity, low permeability, and strong concealment.

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The oil firm said that the Zhongjiang field has produced a total of 5.29bcm of gas so far.

For two consecutive years, the field reported production of more than 1bcm of gas annually. This is equivalent to meeting the 5.5 million households’ daily gas consumption.

In a press statement, Sinopec said: “The Sichuan Basin is rich in ultra-deep natural gas and deep shale gas resources and is a main front for increasing natural gas reserves and production in the future.”

Although the Sichuan basin comprises both conventional and unconventional natural gas, the rough conditions for exploitation combined with low proven rate have made the field development quiet challenging, according to China Daily.

Sinopec Southwest Oil and Gas Company said it has addressed three major issues in oil and gas exploration and development in recent years. These include narrow-channel tight gas fields, ultra-deep and high-sulfur gas fields and deep shale gas fields.

The company’s statement said: “It has made China one of the few countries in the world to own the complete exploration and development technologies of ultra-deep, high-sulfur organic reef gas fields, taking the lead in ultra-deep natural gas and deep shale gas exploration and development, providing a successful experience for China and abroad.”

Sinopec has set a target to become carbon neutral by 2050. Its near-term strategy is focused on development of natural gas with long-term pivot to hydrogen.