Water Availability for Shale Gas Development in Sichuan Basin, China.
Unconventional shale gas development holds promise for reducing the predominant consumption of coal and increasing the utilization of natural gas in China. While China possesses some of the most abundant technically recoverable shale gas resources in the world, water availability could still be a limiting factor for hydraulic fracturing operations, in addition to geological, infrastructural, and technological barriers. Here, we project the baseline water availability for the next 15 years in Sichuan Basin, one of the most promising shale gas basins in China. Our projection shows that continued water demand for the domestic sector in Sichuan Basin could result in high to extremely high water stress in certain areas. By simulating shale gas development and using information from current water use for hydraulic fracturing in Sichuan Basin (20,000-30,000 m(3) per well), we project that during the next decade water use for shale gas development could reach 20-30 million m(3)/year, when shale gas well development is projected to be most active. While this volume is negligible relative to the projected overall domestic water use of ∼36 billion m(3)/year, we posit that intensification of hydraulic fracturing and water use might compete with other water utilization in local water-stress areas in Sichuan Basin.
Yu, M; Weinthal, E; Patiño-Echeverri, D; Deshusses, MA; Zou, C; Ni, Y; Vengosh, A
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