China produced more shale gas last year, as the world's biggest energy producer and consumer cleans up its coal-dominated energy mix.
Its shale gas yield increased 76.3 percent to 7.9 billion cubic meters in 2016, a record high, the Ministry of Land and Resources (MLF) said Monday in a statement.
A total of 8.79 billion yuan (1.3 billion U.S. dollars) was spent prospecting for shale gas last year.
Breakthroughs in drilling techniques have made China one of the top shale gas suppliers in the world. Only a few countries are able to commercially produce the gas, including the United States, Canada and Argentina.
The China Geological Survey announced Friday that a shale gas reservoir had been discovered in Yichang City, central China's Hubei Province. The area is estimated to have over 500 billion cubic meters of gas reserves.
China's exploitable shale gas reserves are estimated at 21.8 trillion cubic meters, with proven reserves at 544.1 billion cubic meters.
The country plans to raise its annual shale gas output to 30 billion cubic meters in 2020 and aims for 80 to 100 billion cubic meters in 2030.
The MLF statement also showed the output of coalbed methane, another unconventional natural gas, rose slightly from a year ago to 4.5 billion cubic meters. New proven reserves were 57.61 billion cubic meters.
The government plans to increase the proportion of natural gas in energy consumption to more than 10 percent from the current 5.9 percent by 2020, and to 15 percent by 2030.