China has revolution envy.
The world’s largest energy consumer wants a natural gas boom to match the speedy transformation in the U.S., where shale gas production more than quadrupled between 2007 and 2012. President Barack Obama singled out the fuel in his State of the Union speech last month, saying, “Today America is closer to energy independence than we have been in decades. One of the reasons why is natural gas.”
It’s an enviable position to be in, and one potentially within China’s reach. The Middle Kingdom has all the essentials to replicate America’s coup: the world’s largest reserves — twice the U.S.’s, little public backlash against drilling, support from the leadership and a ready market. Its major cities are choking on air pollution, and could benefit from a fuel that burns cleaner than coal.