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(Image courtesy of PetroChina)

PetroChina plans to spend around $1.6 billion on shale gas exploration this year, more than tripling its shale expenditures since 2010, sources close to the deal said.

The company’s decision comes a few months after rival Sinopec announced a commercially viable shale gas find.

PetroChina has also lifted its 2015 shale gas output target to 2.6 billion cubic meters (bcm), up from this year’s 1.5 bcm, according to a company officials.

“PetroChina wants to play catch up after Sinopec’s success,” said a government source who requested not to be named.

Since 2010, PetroChina has spent $482.39 million on pilot shale drilling.