Oil and natural gas output from two of China’s leading fields again crept upward last year, according to reports that cited data from China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC) and China Petroleum and Chemical Corp. (Sinopec).

Oil and gas production in the Tarim Oilfield, China’s largest ultra-deep onshore play, hit a record 33.1 million tons (Mt) in 2022, according to CNPC data. That’s up by 1.28 Mt from 2021. Natural gas output from the field hit 32.3 billion cubic meters (Bcm), or about 1.1 Tcf last year. 

The Tarim Basin in northwest China’s crude and gas reserves accounted for 60% of the country’s onshore ultra-deep assets and 19% of the global total, CNPC said. 

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In southwest China, Sinopec said production from the country’s largest shale gas field also hit a record. The Fuling field produced 7.2 Bcm last year, or 254 Bcf. That’s up by roughly 1 Bcf from the previous year. Fuling accounts for about 34% of China’s shale gas reserves, according to Sinopec. 

The Chinese government has called on its national oil companies to boost domestic output in recent years. It also opened the country to foreign companies to develop natural gas to increase domestic supplies. 

China, the world’s largest energy consumer, also has invested in technically challenging hydrocarbon areas such as shale and tight gas.

While natural gas demand was limited last year by Covid-19 outbreaks, the country was able to lean more heavily on domestic gas production, pipeline gas imports from Russia and other fuels like domestic coal.

The strategy helped gas buyers in the country avoid costly purchases on the LNG spot market, which are expected to remain limited this year.

Overall, China’s natural gas production has increased from 174 Bcm (6.1 Tcf) in 2019 to about 220 Bcm (7.8 Tcf) last year, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). IEA projects China’s domestic gas production to reach 230 Bcm (8.1 Tcf) this year.