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Shale gas refers to the unconventional natural gas that occurs in the organic-rich mud shale and its interlayers, and is mainly present in the adsorption or free state. The main composition is methane. It is a clean and efficient energy resource. The formation and enrichment of shale gas has its own unique characteristics, which are often distributed in the thick and widely distributed shale source rock strata in the basin. Compared with conventional natural gas, shale gas reservoirs have the characteristics of self-generation and self-storage. Shale is both a source rock and a reservoir. It is not controlled by structure, has no traps, and has no clear gas-water interface. The burial depth of shale gas ranges from 200 meters to more than 3000 meters. Most of the gas-producing shale has a wide distribution range, large thickness, and generally contains gas. This enables shale gas wells to produce gas at a stable rate for a long time, and has the advantages of long production life and long production cycle.
The global shale gas resources are very rich. According to forecasts, the world's shale gas resources amount to 456 trillion cubic meters, mainly distributed in North America, Central Asia and China, the Middle East and North Africa, Latin America, and the former Soviet Union. Similar to conventional natural gas, the resource potential of shale gas may be greater than that of conventional natural gas. In recent years, as the society’s demand for clean energy continues to expand and natural gas prices continue to rise, people’s understanding of shale gas has rapidly increased. In particular, horizontal wells and fracturing technology continue to advance, and human exploration and development of shale gas is forming a boom. In recent years, the world's research, exploration and development of shale gas resources first began in the United States. Relying on mature development and production technology and complete pipeline network facilities, the current cost of shale gas in the United States is only slightly higher than that of conventional gas, which makes the United States the only country in the world that has achieved large-scale commercial exploitation of shale gas. Data show that in 2010, the production of shale gas in the United States exceeded 100 billion cubic meters. Technological breakthroughs in the exploration and development of shale gas in the United States and rapid growth in output have had a major impact on the international natural gas market and the world energy pattern.