Royal Dutch Shell (RDSA.LON) and China National Petroleum Corporation plan to set up a 50-50 venture to drill onshore gas wells in China, part of a global alliance between the largest European and Asian oil companies, state media reported, quoting an announcement by Royal Dutch Shell. The partnership will use technologies like automated direction drilling and optimization, some of which were “pioneered by Shell in its North America tight gas operations,” the announcement said. Tight gas is a form of harder-to-extract unconventional gas, a category that also includes shale gas and coal-bed methane. The US Energy Information Agency estimated in April that China’s shale gas deposits may hold 12 times more fuel than its conventional fields. In 2009, the US became the world’s largest gas producer ahead of Russia because of the output from its shale fields. China wants to triple its use of natural gas to about 10 percent of energy consumption by 2020 as it cuts reliance on coal. “Full scale commercialization of tight gas, shale gas and coal bed methane can require the drilling of hundreds of wells each year, over many years,” Shell said.