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Energy-Hungry China Struggles to Join Shale-Gas Revolution

MAOBA, China—When Royal Dutch Shell PLC began a multibillion-dollar effort to tap China shale gas a few years ago, it seemed like a can’t-miss wager. China has the world’s most extensive shale gas reserves, biggest energy market, and a government pushing for expanded gas production.

But for Shell and its state-controlled partner, China National Petroleum Corp. the reality on the ground makes its bet look riskier.

The region’s rough terrain, poor infrastructure and deeply buried gas formations present tough technical challenges.

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