On 28 June 2011, Zhang Dawai, deputy chief of the Strategic Research Centre of the Ministry of Land and Resources (PRC) announced the tender results for the auction of four blocks for shale gas exploration in China. The successful tenderers for the four blocks are, PetroChina Company Limited, China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation (Sinopec), China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) (all Chinese National Oil Companies (NOC's)), Yanchang Oil Administration Bureau Corp. Ltd as well as two domestic coal seam gas companies, China United Coalbed Methane Co. Ltd. and Henan Provincial Coal Seam Gas Development and Utilisation Co.
It is expected that the actual exploration rights to the four blocks will be awarded in July with a further tender to be announced in the second half of the year according to Zhang.
When the tender was announced in October 2010, Zhang said that the Chinese companies would be able to choose foreign partners to enter into joint ventures for the assessment of the shale blocks. While no formal announcements have been made yet a number of the gas majors are reported to already be in advanced discussions with Chinese NOC's and Shell has already partnered with PetroChina to develop a shale gas field in Fushun.
The four shale gas blocks are split into two geographical locations, in the Chongqing municipality and in the Guizhou province. The total reserves of shale gas in China has not yet been confirmed, however estimates put these reserves at around 30 trillion cubic metres and it is anticipated that by 2020 shale gas will account for 8-12% of all natural gas needs in China.