Survey of Energy Resources 2007
Oil Shale Country Notes
Between 2004 and 2006 China undertook its first national oil shale evaluation, which confirmed that the resource was both widespread and vast. According to the evaluation, it has been estimated that a total oil shale resource of some 720 billion tonnes is located across 22 provinces, 47 basins and 80 deposits. The shale oil resource has been estimated at some 48 billion tonnes.
Proved reserves of oil shale are estimated to be in the region of 36 billion tonnes.The major deposits are in Fushun in the north-eastern province of Liaoning, with a reserve of 3.6 billion tonnes and a Fischer Assay of 6%; Maoming in Guangdong, with 4.1 billion tonnes and 7%; Huadian in Jilin, with 0.3 billion tonnes and 10%; Longkow in Shandong with 0.1 billion tonnes and 14% and Nong An in Jilin with 16 billion tonnes and 4.5%.
The city of Fushun is known as the Chinese 'capital of coal'. Within the Fushun coalfield the West Open Pit mine is the largest operation of coal mining and is where, above the coal layer, oil shale from the Tertiary Formation is mined as a by-product.
The commercial extraction of oil shale and the operation of heating retorts for processing the oil shale were developed in Fushun between 1920 and 1930. After World War II, Refinery No. 1 had 200 retorts, each with a daily throughput of 100-200 tonnes of oil shale. It continued to operate and was joined by Refinery No. 2, restored in 1954. In Refinery No. 3 shale oil was hydrotreated for producing light liquid fuels. Shale oil was also open-pit mined in Maoming and 64 retorts were put into operation there in the 1960s.
At the beginning of the 1960s, 266 retorts were operating in Fushun's Refinery Nos. 1 and 2 and production peaked at about 23 million tonnes of oil shale (about 780 000 tonnes of shale oil). However, during the 1980s production had dropped to about 300 000 tonnes of shale oil and at the beginning of the 1990s the availability of much cheaper crude oil had led to the Maoming operation and Fushun Refinery Nos. 1 and 2 being shut down.
A new facility - the Fushun Oil Shale Retorting Plant - came into operation under the management of the Fushun Bureau of Mines. It at first consisted of 60 retorts producing 60 000 tonnes per year of shale oil to be sold as fuel oil, with carbon black as a by-product. By 2005 the total number of retorts stood at 120, each with a daily capacity of 100 tonnes of oil shale. In that year 180 000 tonnes of shale oil were produced. In 2006 it was expected that Fushun would again be expanded and operate 140 retorts. In addition to fuel oil some of the surplus retort gas with low heating value is used to produce steam and power. The shale ash is utilised in a 90 000 tonne/yr cement factory and a brick factory with an output of 60 million bricks per year.
Owing to high crude oil prices and favourable economic factors it is planned to further increase production capacity and a project to build an ATP retort capable of processing 6 000 tonnes per day is planned.
The production of oil shale has long been a by-product of Chinese coal mining. In the Longkow mining area the Bureau of Mines has a project to build a plant designed to process 2 million tonnes of oil shale, producing 200 000 tonnes of shale oil. A feasibility study has been approved by the Shandong Provincial Development Committee and following the utilisation of Fushun-type retorting to begin with, it is planned to use fluidised-bed combustion for producing power and ash suitable for building products.
A similar project is planned for Huadian in Jilin Province but with Petrosix technology being used. A prefeasibility study was approved by the China National Development and Reform Commission in late-2003 and the scheme is now at the feasibility stage.
It is planned to utilise oil shale once again in the Maoming retort in a fluidised-bed combustion process for the production of power.
China's high level of oil imports is influencing the country to further consider the development of its oil shale resource. It is possible that reserves in Uromqi Xinjiang, Yongden Gansu, Yilan, Heilongjiang etc will be utilised in the near future.
China possesses a wealth of knowledge regarding oil shale and the Petroleum University is assisting with a feasibility study on the Khoot oil shale deposit in Mongolia.
In 2005 the China National Oil Shale Association was established.