Along with the discovery of gas fields and the increase of gas reserve, China's natural gas industry has been entering a new period of rapid growth. The gas yield has witnessed a steady increase in the last decade. It could be expected that great progress will be made in both exploration and development.

In this paper, the history of natural gas industry was reviewed, and the achievements were summarized for every stage of development. The prospect forecast was proposed in gas exploration and development. The reserve increase and gas yield trend was suggested, indicating the rapid growth trend will sustain, and natural gas will play an even more important role in the energy mixture in China.

Historical review of gas exploration and development

Exploration. Gas exploration has seen 5 stages of development (Figure 1).

Stage 1 (Before 1956): There was no new gas fields found and gas reserve remained a low level (around 0.2 bcm).

Stage 2 (1956 – 1976): In this period, gas reserve saw a relatively low increase, and most reserve was obtained in Sichuan basin. To the statistics, the quantity of reserve increase was 121 bcm, of which over 70 percent was that of Sichuan basin.

Stage 3 (1977 – 1989): In this phase, besides a number of small-scaled gas reservoirs were found in Sichuan basin, a series of breakthrough was achieved in such basins as Tarim, Ordos, Qaidam, Ying-Qiong, East sea, etc.. Many gas-bearing structures were identified through exploration well-drilling. In particular, field Ya 13-1 in Ying-Qiong basin was the largest gas field in China at that time, and it was the first high productivity and high reserve abundance offshore gas field in China.

Stage 4 (1990–1999): A series of important breakthroughs in gas exploration were achieved and the natural gas reserves saw a rapid growth. With the stable progress of natural gas exploration and development in Sichuan Basin, three new natural gas areas, Tarim basin, Ordos basin and Tsaidam basin, came into being. In this period, gas reserve of 950 bcm was proved. A number of large fields found or proved in this period (such as Dukouhe, Wubaiti, Shapingchang in Sichan basin, Jingbian, Yulin in Ordos basin, Kela 2, Yaha, Yingmaili in Tarim basin) became major gas producers and supply sources.

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