Comparison of water stress regarding potential shale energy development in China and the US

Li He*, Baixue Chen, Yugeng Luo, Yang Xu, Wei Ye, Meiyu Guo, Pengcheng Wu, Zhengtao Li, Ye Chen, Hushen Feng, Jingyao Wang, Yuxuan Wang, Li Xu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


Unconventional shale resources are important options in mitigating intensified energy challenges. Little is known regarding the national-scale water stress induced by the demand-and-supply contradiction during shale development. We here propose a new life-cycle-based model for estimating water intensities of single shale wells and use them as proxies to calculate the water stress facing China and the US. In China, most shale provinces have low water stress (< 1); Xinjiang has the highest one (∼10) so that either long-distance water diversion or groundwater extraction from deep aquifers would be required. The water stress facing the US is not as optimistic as China due to generally lower water availability; Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Colorado, and Pennsylvania have the highest water stress (between 10 and 25 under high intensity). We also find that policy combinations can effectively mitigate the water stress and suggest that deep cooperation be desired among those shale -rich countries.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106823
JournalResources, Conservation and Recycling
Early online date15 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Economics and Econometrics

User-Defined Keywords

  • Energy cooperation
  • Mitigation policies
  • Shale
  • Water consumption
  • Water stress


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