The ‘Sea of Death’ of the Taklimakan Desert is located in the central area of the Tarim Basin. Even larger than the Yangtze River Delta, its drifting sands cover an area of 337,000 square kilometers. But it is this same desert that promises to yield up some 10.7 billion tons of oil and 8,400 billion cubic meters of natural gas. This has led to it being renamed the ‘Sea of Hope’ by Chinese geologists.
Petroleum prospecting teams from all over the country flocked to the Tarim basin 12 years ago and had a series of successes in finding oil. Meanwhile, an historic breakthrough was being made in natural gas prospecting. The Kuqa, Bachu and Zepu areas, in the northern part of the Tarim Basin, proved to be rich sources of high-grade, natural gas. These gas fields with their more than 3,000 billion cubic meters of proven reserves have the potential to become a prime gas producing area.
In this crescent shaped, gas-bearing belt, Tarim Oil Field Corporation has found the five big gas fields of Kelasu, Hehetian, Yingmaili, Yaha and Dina. China Star Petroleum Co. Ltd. has also found a high-yield gas field. The Oil and Gas Reserves Assessment Office of the Ministry of Land and Resources has confirmed that the Tarim Basin has a total of some 527 billion cubic meters in proven reserves. Once developed, the gas fields could offer 15 billion cubic meters of gas a year. So far, sufficient gas reserves to supply the Yangtze River Delta for 30 years have been assured.
Besides this, Tarim Oil Field Corporation has identified further gas bearing structures in the area with the potential to add more than 1,000 billion cubic meters to the reserves. Thorough prospecting work is being carried out in the area in the hope of finding even more. Such finds can only serve to extend the working life of the west-east gas pipeline.
At the same time, China Star Petroleum Co. Ltd. Has its own detailed plans for prospecting gas reserves in the Tarim Basin and a prediction that another 60 billion cubic meters gas in geological reserves could be found.
Changqing Oil Field Corporation, the first company to supply gas to the east, has found the Jingbian, Yulin, Wushenqi, Sulige and other major gas fields in the past ten years. By the end of last year, its proven geological reserves exceeded one thousand billion cubic meters. This represents another main source of supply for the west-east gas pipeline.
Tarim Oil Field Corporation and Changqing Oil Field Corporation have, based on present proven reserves, worked up detailed development plans for gas fields including the Kelasu, Yingmaili, Yangyake, Sulige and Wushenqi in preparation for supplying gas to the Yangtze River Delta. Their plans are aimed at securing an annual production of 14 billion cubic meters of natural gas to fulfill the needs of the west-east gas pipeline project.