A worker walks past oil pipes at a refinery in Wuhan, Hubei province March 23, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

China’s shale oil reserves have reached 764.3 billion cubic meters, ranking third in the world after the United States and Canada, the 21st Century Business Herald reported, citing Zhang Dawei, Director of the Reserves Evaluation Center of China’s Ministry of Land and Mineral Resources.

Despite the rapid development, Zhang also expressed worry over the performance of central, local and private enterprises.

“Some of the areas don’t create high economic value — many projects have seen losses,” he said at a shale gas forum in Shanghai on Wednesday.

Zhang Yousheng, Deputy Director of the Energy Research Institute at National Development and Reform Commission, expressed similar concerns.

“Many private enterprises have just entered the shale gas industry and the cost will be high, as will the need for a suitable market environment for further development,” he said. “But the country hopes to lower natural gas prices, so that more enterprises and residents can enjoy the results of the reform.”

The current oversupply situation may also exist for a long period in the international gas market, he said, leading to  possible decline in China’s domestic oil prices.

“This is a very difficult choice for local and private enterprises who wish to enter the shale oil industry,” Zhang said.