An action thriller by Jock Miller

Fossil fuel has an ageless affinity with dinosaurs. To create oil, dinosaurs died.

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The perfect energy storm is sweeping over the United States: Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant meltdown has paralyzed nuclear expansion globally, BP’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill has stalled deep water drilling, Arab oil countries are in turmoil causing doubt about access to future oil, the intensity of hurricanes hitting the Gulf’s oil rigs and refineries has intensified due to global warming, and the nation’s Strategic Oil Supply is riding on empty.

As the energy storm intensifies, the nation’s access to Arab oil, once supplying over sixty percent of our fossil fuel, is being threatened causing people to panic for lack of gas at the pumps, stranding cars across the country and inciting riots.

The U.S. Military is forced to cut back air, land, and sea operations sucking up 58% of every barrel of oil to protect the nation; U.S. commercial airlines are forced to limit flights for lack of jet fuel; and businesses are challenged to power up their factories, and offices as the U.S. Department of Energy desperately tries to provide a balance of electric power from the network of aged power plants and transmission lines that power up the nation.

The United States must find new sources of domestic fossil fuel urgently or face an energy crisis that will plunge the nation into a deep depression worse than 1929.

The energy storm is very real and happening this very moment. But, at the last moment of desperation, the United States discovers the world’s largest fossil fuel deposit found in a remote inaccessible mountain range within Alaska’s Noatak National Preserve surrounding six and a half million acres.

Preventing access to the oil is a colony of living fossil dinosaurs that will protect its territory to the death.

Nobody gets out alive; nobody can identify the predator--until Dr. Kimberly Fulton, Curator of Paleontology at New York’s Museum of Natural History, is flown into the inaccessible area by Scott Chandler, the Marine veteran helicopter pilot who’s the Park’s Manager of Wildlife. All hell breaks loose when Fulton’s teenage son and his girlfriend vanish into the Park.

Will the nation’s military be paralyzed for lack of mobility fuel, and will people across America run out of gas and be stranded, or will the U.S. Military succeed in penetrating this remote mountain range in northwestern Alaska to restore fossil fuel supplies in time to save the nation from the worst energy driven catastrophe in recorded history?


How Did Pterosaurs Fly?

 Virtual Wind Tunnel 700.309

Visit the exhibition to experiment with principles of pterosaur aerodynamics in an interactive virtual tunnel.
© AMNH/D. Finnin

Flight allowed pterosaurs to travel long distances, exploit new habitats, escape predators, and swoop down from above to seize their prey. They spread across the world and branched out into an enormous array of species, including the largest animals ever to take wing.

Like other flying animals, pterosaurs generated lift with their wings. They needed to perform the same kinds of motions as birds and bats, but their wings evolved independently, developing their own distinct aerodynamic structure.

Nemicolopterus 700.309
Nemicolopterus crypticus was recently discovered in northeastern China, in a region once dotted with wetlands, lakes, and forests. This tiny pterosaur may have darted through forests hunting for insects.
© AMNH 2014

Pterosaurs flew with their forelimbs. Their long, tapering wings evolved from the same body part as our arms. As pterosaurs’ arm and hand bones evolved for flying, they lengthened, and the bones of one finger—the equivalent of our ring finger—became extraordinarily long. Like the mast on a ship, these bones supported the wing surface, a thin flap of skin that was shaped like a sail.


Although many animals can glide through the air, pterosaurs, birds, and bats are the only vertebrates that have evolved to fly by flapping their wings. All three groups descended from animals that lived on the ground, and their wings evolved in a similar way: their forelimbs gradually became long, bladelike, and aerodynamic.

Istiodactylus 700.309

The medium-sized Istiodactylus evolved during the Cretaceous, and its contemporaries included the largest flying animals ever known, such as Pteranodon longiceps and Quetzalcoatlus northropi.
© AMNH 2014

Large pterosaurs needed strong limbs to get off the ground, but thick bones would have made them too heavy. The solution? A pterosaur’s wing bones were hollow tubes, with walls no thicker than a playing card. Like bird bones, they were flexible and lightweight, while strengthened by internal struts.


Recent discoveries show that pterosaur wing membranes were more than simple flaps of skin. Long fibers extended from the front to the back of the wings forming a series of stabilizing supports, so the membranes could be stretched taut, or folded up like a fan. Separate muscle fibers helped pterosaurs adjust the tension and shape of their wings, and veins and arteries kept the wings nourished with blood.

Rhamphorhynchus 700.309

Rhamphorhynchus's long tail had a stiff flap of skin called a vane at the end that stabilized flight. Some scientists think this membrane faced sideways, like a fish tail, and helped prevent rocking from side to side. Others think it lay flat, like a paddle, and helped the flying pterosaur control its elevation.
© AMNH 2014
The exhibition includes a remarkable fossil of Rhamphorhynchus muensteri, discovered in Germany in 2001, which features wing tissues so well preserved that scientists have been able to see fine details in their structure. Under ultraviolet light, researchers detected layers of skin threaded with blood vessels, muscles, and long fibers that stiffened the wing. Because of the shadowy color of the wing membrane, paleontologists call this fossil Dark Wing.

Visitors with Dark Wing Fossil 700.309

The Pterosaurs exhibition includes a remarkable fossil of Rhamphorhynchus muensteri known as Dark Wing, which has allowed scientists to see fine details of pterosaur wing structure.
© AMNH/D. Finnin

See more at the Natural Museum of History

Toothless 'dragon' pterosaurs once ruled skies

Ancient winged reptiles called pterosaurs were so successful that they ruled Earth's skies for tens of millions of years, according to a study published in the journal ZooKeys.

The fearsome fliers, part of a family of pterosaurs named Azhdarchidae, get their name from azdarha, the Persian word for "dragon." Unlike earlier pterosaurs, they had no teeth, and they dominated from late in the Cretaceous period (around 90 million years ago) until the extinction event that also killed off the dinosaurs some 66 million years ago.

“This shift in dominance from toothed to toothless pterodactyloids apparently reflects some fundamental changes in Cretaceous ecosystems, which we still poorly understand,” study author Alexander Averianov of the Russian Academy of Sciences wrote in the paper.

Pterosaurs are not dinosaurs, and they're definitely not ancient birds, which are the living descendants of the dinosaurs. But understanding these large predators can give insight into the ancient ecosystem as well as the origins of flight, as pterosaurs are thought to be the first animals after insects to develop powered flight.

Pterosaur fossils are tough to find, the study authors point out, because their fragile bones haven’t survived as well as dinosaur remains have.

“Pterosaur bones were thin and fragile, much like bird bones, and they often drifted apart, shattered, or became scrambled before they could be preserved,” according to the American Museum of Natural History.

Thus, it’s often pretty difficult to tell how the few fossils that do exist are related to one another, according to the paper.

“Azhdarchidae currently represents a real nightmare for pterosaur taxonomists: Most taxa are known from few fragmentary bones, which often do not overlap between named taxa, the few articulated skeletons are poorly preserved,” Averianov wrote, and some of the best material “has remained undescribed for 40 years.”

For the ZooKeys study, Averianov surveyed and analyzed the known research to help straighten out the fossil record. The findings also showed that although their bones are challenging to find, the pterosaurs were probably quite successful in a wide variety of habitats, but were more commonly found near large lakes and rivers and especially in near-shore marine environments.

Reposted Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times 

Complete pterosaur eggs discovered in China.

The eggs are three-dimensional and extremely well-preserved (Picture: Rex)

 According to the famous scientific journal Current Biology on June 6, 2014, the world's largest and most well-preserved three-dimensional fossil cluster of pterosaur and its eggs were found in Hami, western China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. The discovery was based on the field research of researcher Wang Youlin and his team of Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, over the past 10 years. The specimens are named Hamipterus tianshanensis. "Hami" refers to the region where the specimens were found.The pterosaurs are thought to have perished in a large storm.

The discovery in the Xinjiang Uygur Region, western China, is the world’s largest and most well-preserved cluster of three-dimensional fossils ever found with a nest containing eggs.


Photo by HAP/Quirky China News/REX (3792156c) Artist's impression of Crested Pterosaurs

Pterosaurs were flying reptiles with wingspans ranging from 25 cm to 12 metres, and they lived together in large colonies.

The discovery represents a new genus and species known as Hamipterus tianshanensis.

Speaking to the journal Current Biology, field researcher Wang Youlin described the eggs as ‘three-dimensionally’ preserved.

Photo by HAP/Quirky China News/REX (3792156b) Artist's impression of Crested Pterosaur

The fossils were unearthed during a study conducted by a team from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, who have been excavating the fossil-rich region for the past 10 years.

Wang says that sediment samples in the area suggest the pterosaurs died in a large storm about 120million years ago.

Reposted from Metro

Baby Dinosaurs Discovered

Yunnan Province, China holds some very special eggs, containing the tiny bones of unborn sauropod dinosaurs. Within the Lufeng Formation, a relatively thin bed of red sediment contains these fossil eggs, mixed and buried amidst other fossils.

Robert Reisz from the University of Toronto and his fellow paleontologists working in the Yunnan province of China discovered a cluster of 200 tiny fossils bones left behind by ancient dinosaur embryos.  Upon further inspection it turned out to be the oldest remnants of dinosaur embryos ever discovered by human beings.

The scientists discovered the embryos in a layer of sedimentary rock. They date them to the early Jurassic Era, making them approximately 190 million years old. The fossils’ importance extends beyond their age, though. They are probably unhatched embryos of Lufengosaurus at different developmental stages, providing a unique opportunity to investigate the embryonic development of a prehistoric species.

The research team focused their analysis on the most prevalent and best-preserved bones: femurs, or thigh bones. These little leg bones ranged from 0.5 to 0.9 inches  in length, shorter than matchsticks. The bones were porous, filled with cavities that would have once allowed blood to flow to the growing tissue. The size of the cavities is determined by how fast the animal grows — which made researchers realize these embryos got big quickly.  The researchers also found an asymmetrical thickening in the femurs associated with muscle action on the bone. The finding suggests the baby dines were kicking and twitching inside their eggs.

Artist's impression of embryonic Lufengosaurs.  Credit:  D. Mazierski

Artist’s impression of embryonic Lufengosaurs. Credit: D. Mazierski (c) 2013

The fast growth rate makes sense, given that Lufengosaurus grew to gigantic size 20 feet (6 meters) in length.

Adult Lufengosaurus Credit:  DK Images

Adult Lufengosaurus Credit: DK Images

'World's largest dinosaur' discovered in Argentina

The largest creature to have ever walked the earth - a dinosaur measuring 130 feet and weighing 77 tonnes - has been discovered in Argentina, palaeontologists have said.

Its gigantic bones were found by a local farm worker in a desert in Patagonia, the southern Argentine region that has yielded many important dinosaur discoveries.

Based on the size of the thigh bones – taller than an average man – the dinosaur would have been 130 feet long and 65ft tall, scientists said.

Its calculated 77-tonne weight would have made it as heavy as 14 African elephants, beating the previous record holder, Argentinosaurus, by some seven tonnes.

 The palaeontologists say the find is thought to be a new species of titanosaur – a huge herbivore of the long-necked sauropod group that lived in the Late Cretaceous period.

The bones were initially discovered a year ago in the desert near La Flecha, about 135 miles west of the Patagonian town of Trelew, and were this week excavated by a team of palaeontologists from Argentina’s Museum of Palaeontology Egidio Feruglio, headed by Dr Jose Luis Carballido and Dr Diego Pol.

Scientists unearth unique, long-necked dinosaur in Argentina

They have retrieved some 150 bones said to come from seven individuals, all in “remarkable condition”.

“Given the size of these bones, which surpass any of the previously known giant animals, the new dinosaur is the largest animal known to have walked on Earth,” the researchers told BBC News.

“Its length, from its head to the tip of its tail, was 40 metres.

“Standing with its neck up, it was about 20 metres high – equal to a seven-storey building.”

The gargantuan dinosaur is said to have lived in the forests of Patagonia between 95 and 100 million years ago, based on the age of the rocks in which the bones were embedded.

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'Littlest giant' dinosaur found in Argentina

At 30 meters long, the newly discovered Leinkupal laticauda (shown here in Buenos Aires on Thursday, May 15) is not exactly small, but could also called the 'littlest giant.' Scientists in Argentina announced the discovery of the fossilized remains of this unique member of the famous long-necked, plant-munching dinosaurs known as sauropods, the largest land creatures in Earth's history. It lived about 140 million years ago.

Raptor Dinosaur Found In China

The nearly-complete skeleton of the birdlike dinosaur was found in inner Mongolia

A British scientist doing his PhD  discovered a dinosaur which had a huge claw and could run at more than 30mph while digging for fossils in the Gobi desert.

In this picture you see a cast of the skeleton of the new raptor dinosaur Linheraptor exquisitus discovered  with Michael Pittman, a graduate student at the University College of London, while hunting for fossils in red sandstone rocks in Inner Mongolia, a province in northern China.

Linheraptor was about six feet long, probably weighed around 50 pounds, and lived approximately 75 million years ago. Like most other dromaeosaurids (the scientific name for raptor dinosaurs), it has a large claw on the second toe of its foot and a tail stiffened by long bony rods that project from the vertebrae.

Linheraptor is important because it preserves almost every bone in the body. Scientists can get information from its skeleton that they can't get from the incomplete fossil skeletons of other dromaeosaurids.

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Gobi Desert of Inner Mongolia turns up evidence of a 90-million-year-old grave­yard

An expedition in the Gobi Desert of Inner Mongolia turns up evidence of a 90-million-year-old grave­yard, including the remains of more than a dozen fossilized ostrich like dinosaurs.
Professor Paul Sereno holds a plaque cast of two juvenile skeletons of the ostrich-mimic dinosaur Sinornithomimus that died when they were a little over one year in age. In their ribcages are stomach stones and the carbonized remains of their last plants they consumed. 

Evidence at the site points to a unique and rare conclusion: the dinosaur fossils were not deposited at the site over millennia. Instead the dinosaurs all met their fate at the same time.

The sudden death of the herd in a mud trap provides a rare snapshot of social behavior. Composed entirely of juveniles of a single species of ornithomimid dinosaur (Sinornithomimus dongi), the herd suggests that immature individuals were left to fend for themselves when adults were preoccupied with nesting or brooding.

Reader's Review

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Really enjoying the book and found it difficult to put down. I rarely make that statement about a book. Haven’t dug into a fictional book like this since John Gresham’s “The Firm.” You’re a future John Gresham. I can’t even conceive of what must be involved with coming up with a story like this and getting it on paper in an interesting way.

Loved the first chapter. The detail was amazing when describing fish, locations, fly rods, etc. Pretty much everything about it grab my attention. I even found myself Googling locations wondering what was imagined and what was real. The mixture of real and fantasy makes a book so much fun as I think I may be actually learning something while enjoying the ride.

Love the short chapters. Much easier on me.

Loved the fast pace and vivid word pictures. I kept thinking this will be a great movie. Either you have a fabulous imagination which sells really well, done a ton of research to pull this book together with all the scientific classification of dinosaur type terms, or are one of the smartest guys in the world. Perhaps all three. In any event you are a great writer which I say about only a few. Every time you drop something in like a helicopter model number, drone price, who first said “survival of the fittest,” what inspired the “Halls of Montezuma,” I’m wondering how did you know all this stuff.

Awaiting your next book!

Dinosaur True Colors Revealed by Feather Find

First True-Color Dinosaur

An artist's reconstruction using new data shows dinosaur Sinosauropteryx with striped tail and orange back feathers

Sinosauropteryx, a turkey-size carnivorous dinosaur, is the first dinosaur—excluding birds, which many paleontologists consider to be dinosaurs—to have its color scientifically established.

In 1996, Sinosauropteryx was also the first dinosaur reported to have feathers. It was found in the Yixian formation, 130- to 123-million-year-old sediments in Liaoning Province in northeast China, which have since produced thousands of apparently feathery fossils.

In a report released by the journal Nature, an international team of paleontologists and experts in scanning electron micrography infer that this dinosaur had reddish orange feathers running along its back and a striped tail.

Why would a dinosaur need a striped tail? Many birds, the living descendants of non-avian dinosaurs, use brightly colored tails for courtship displays.

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Tarbosaurus Gangs: What Do We Know?

The proposal of pack-hunting dinosaurs is old news in paleontological circles, and the hard evidence to support the claims about Tarbosaurus has not yet been released

Paleontologist Philip Currie poses with a tyrannosaur skull. Photo courtesy Atlantic Productions.

Tarbosaurus, the great tyrannosaur of Cretaceous Mongolia, hunted in packs. That is the exceptional claim made by University of Alberta paleontologist Philip Currie in a press release, and news outlets all over the world have picked up the story. Just imagine rapacious tyrannosaur families tearing over the prehistoric countryside; it is a terrifying notion that the press release heralds as a “groundbreaking” discovery that will forever change paleontology.

But does the actual evidence live up to all the hype? Unfortunately, the answer is no. The proposal of pack-hunting dinosaurs is old news in paleontological circles, and the hard evidence to support the claims about Tarbosaurus has not yet been released.

Packaged under the theme “Dino Gangs,” the media release, book, and cable-network documentary arranged by Atlantic Productions hinge on a Tarbosaurus bonebed found in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert. The site was one of 90 Tarbosaurus localities surveyed by Currie and the Korea-Mongolia International Dinosaur Project, but it is unique in that it preserves the remains of six individual animals of different life stages. How the animals died and became buried is unknown. Even so, the press claims that these dinosaurs were a single family group that hunted together.

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Moa Sightings

The legends of the Moa still surviving in New Zealand continued into the 20th century and as modern myth it is still well and alive until the last years. In 1993 the military officer Paddy Fearney and teacher Sam Waby claimed to have seen a large bird on the shores of a river in the interior of the Southern Island. After a first surprise Fearney managed to take a photo that was widely published in the January and February issues of various journals.

However the photo is very blurry and palaeontologists consider the photo showing only the posterior part of a deer. Also it would not be the first hoax in the history of the Moa – in 1954 the workman Neville perpetuated a hoax by applying false claws on his shoes and creating some Moa footprints.

Paddy was a former member of the British elite SAS squad and an avid mountaineer, and was not thought of by his peers as a publicity seeker.

His Story. “The three claim the creature stood three feet off the ground, had a thin long neck, roughly three feet long, ending in a small head and beak. The bird had reddish brown and grey feathers that covered the entire body with the exception of its legs from below the knees. Seeing the men the Moa fled across the river, Freaney gave chase and was able to take a photograph of the Moa at a distance of nearly 115 feet”.
The claim, because of who he was and because of the photo, meant the event was taken seriously at the highest levels of government. Many debunkers appeared and claimed Paddy’s sighting was nonsense and that the photograph was everything from a fake to a small red deer. Paddy was upset and outraged and spent many years trying to regain his good name by launching expeditions to find proof that the Moa was out there unfortunately to no avail.

Despite scientific wisdom denying any evidence that Moas lived past the 1500s, the legend of the still-roaming Moa, so central to the life of early Maori persist – Here are a couple of the more credible reports. 

1) In 1880, at Martins Bay, 30km north of Milford Sound, in Fiordland Alice McKenzie (Age 7) describes in her meticulous diary jottings of everyday life how she saw a large blue bird under flax where the bush line met the beach. Alice describs touching the bird’s curved rump feathers and stretching out one of its dark-green, scaly legs. It was only when Alice tried to tether the bird with flax that it let out a “harsh, grunting cry” and chased her for a short distance. McKenzie described the bird as being pukeko blue, with legs as thick as her wrist and no noticeable tail. When it stood up, it seemed as tall as she was

2) In 2008, Rex & Heather Gilroy, Cryptozoologists have claimed to have taken casts of Moa footprints from the Ureweras range (Remote North Island) and made other claims about their current-day existence. Gilroy claimed these proved the later-day presence of the smaller scrub Moas, measuring between 90 centimetres and about 1.5 meters.

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Feathered Dinosaurs: Moa

Joel Polack, a trader who lived on the East Coast of the North Island from 1834 to 1837, recorded in 1838 that he had been shown "several large fossil ossifications" found near Mt Hikurangi. He was certain that these were the bones of a species of emu or ostrich, noting that "the Natives add that in times long past they received the traditions that very large birds had existed, but the scarcity of animal food, as well as the easy method of entrapping them, has caused their extermination". Polack further noted that he had received reports from Māori that a "species of Struthio" still existed in remote parts of the South Island. Dieffenbach also refers to a fossil from the area near Mt Hikurangi, and surmises that it belongs to "a bird, now extinct, called Moa (or Movie) by the natives". In 1839 John W. Harris, a Poverty Bay flax trader who was a natural history enthusiast, was given a piece of unusual bone by a Māori who had found it in a river bank. He showed the 15 centimetres (6 in) fragment of bone to his uncle, John Rule, a Sydney surgeon, who sent it to Richard Owen, who at that time was working at the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons in London.

Owen puzzled over the fragment for almost four years. He established it was part of the femur of a big animal, but it was uncharacteristically light and honeycombed. Owen announced to a skeptical scientific community and the world that it was from a giant extinct bird like an ostrich, and named it Dinornis. His deduction was ridiculed in some quarters, but was proved correct with the subsequent discoveries of considerable quantities of moa bones throughout the country, sufficient to reconstruct skeletons of the birds.

In July 2004, the Natural History Museum in London placed on display the moa bone fragment Owen had first examined, to celebrate 200 years since his birth, and in memory of Owen as founder of the museum.

Sir Richard Owen holding the first discovered moa fossil and standing with a Dinornis skeleton

Preserved footprints of a D. robustus found in 1911
Since the discovery of the first moa bones in the late 1830s, thousands more have been found. They occur in a range of late Quaternary and Holocene sedimentary deposits, but are most common in three main types of site: caves, dunes, and swamps.  Approximately eight moa trackways, with fossilised moa footprint impressions in fluvial silts have been found.

Several remarkable examples of moa remains have been found which exhibit soft tissues (muscle, skin, feathers), that were preserved through desiccation when the bird died in a naturally dry site (for example, a cave with a constant dry breeze blowing through it).


Wacky Forms of Alternative Energy

Reprocessing Coffee Grounds into Biodiesel


That morning cup of Joe that helps fuel us for the day ahead could soon also help propel trucks as well. In 2009, University of Nevada-Reno engineering professor Mano Misra, known around the lab for his coffee consumption, noticed the sheen of oil floating on top of a cup of brew that had cooled. A light bulb went off in Misra's caffeinated brain, and he asked a couple of students to work on a project to investigate whether coffee oil could be a feedstock for biodiesel.

The students determined that, depending on the particular bean used in the brew, coffee grounds can contain as much as 20 percent oil, and that it has an unusually high oxidative stability (which means it won't break down when exposed to oxygen and therefore gunk up fuel lines). They subsequently developed a method to remove the sulfur found in coffee biodiesel, which comes from the volcanic soils in the mountainous regions where coffee generally is grown. The resulting fuel was sufficient to meet the standards set by ASTM International, an international testing organization, for biodiesel.

The researchers estimate that if all the waste grounds generated by the world's coffee drinkers were gathered and reprocessed, the yield would amount to 2.9 million gallons of diesel fuel each year. Alternatively, the coffee grounds could be converted to fuel pellets. If all of the leftover grounds from Starbucks were reprocessed, they would produce 89,000 tons of such fuel pellets annually, enough to generate millions of dollars in revenue for the coffee-shop chain, as well as help counter rising fuel costs for trucking companies [source: Schill].

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Inside China's Energy Machine

Opening the Shale Gas Valve

Photograph from Reuters

worker checks valves on a natural gas appraisal well at a China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation facility in Langzhong, Sichuan Province. The province holds some of China's largest stores of natural gas.

Also known as Sinopec, China Petroleum is one of the largest state-owned energy companies in China, and its gas pipelines span more than 2,825 miles (4,545 kilometers) across the country.

Last year, Sinopec reportedly produced nearly 17 percent more natural gas, and discovered more than 80 percent more natural gas reserves, than it did in 2010. But it's looking for growth beyond China. Sinopec bought a one-third stake in five exploratory shale gas fields in the United States last month as part of a $2.2 billion deal with Oklahoma City-based Devon Energy. Devon pioneered the horizontal drilling technology, combined with hydraulic fracturing, that has unlocked vast unanticipated stores of natural gas from shale formations across the United States. Such a deal gives Sinopec the opportunity to import the made-in-the-USA shale gas technology.

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