China’s government may classify shale gas as a non-conventional hydrocarbon to encourage private companies to invest in the resource, Reuters reported. “We are working to establish shale gas as an independent resource,” said Che Changbo, China’s deputy director of oil and gas at the Ministry of Land and Mineral Resources. “Companies with strong financial standing and technology may participate in bidding.” The new classification would effectively open the market for private enterprises to compete, as well as the large state-owned enterprises which have traditionally dominated the hydrocarbon sector. Che also cited the example of the US, which used policy incentives to encourage shale gas exploration, and allowed small private firms to operate in the space. Shale gas exploration in China is at an early stage: The country just issued its first-ever gas tender in July. However, China is reckoned to have slightly more shale gas deposits than the US.