Ever wondered how US topped the list of world’s largest natural gas producers? From being a big consumer, it now heads the league of gas producers. The story began a decade back. Unconventional sources of fossil fuels were under the knife. Three of them, coalbed methane, tight gas and shale gas were on the fore. Russia’s unduly control over the energy markets was not conducive. At a time when leading gas producer, Gazprom is investing heavily on cross-border pipelines, the shale gas revolution has turned the tables. What started as a high producing gas-well in Barnett, soon took over 40 percent of US natural gas production silencing the problems of scarcity of energy resources. China and the European Union are following the suit to become self-dependent in their energy needs.
To quote Ravi Misra from ONGC, “The shale gas exploration in India is relatively new but rapidly gaining attention of the industry players. The shales in Gondwana & Cambay basin have been field experimented for evaluating the shale gas potential. Initial results are found encouraging and at par with US producing shales. However the vast resource base coupled with rise in demand for gas and appropriate market prices make the time right to explore & exploit this resource on equal priority.”
Geo-scientists assert India to have large reserves of shale gas. Of late, India is taking baby steps in this direction. India is yet to see a boom in its energy business. Sitting on vast reserves of shale across the Gangetic plain, Assam, Gujarat, Rajasthan, and many coastal areas, it now has to determine how much it can produce. India paced it well with coal bed methane, but why has it been shying away from shale gas? India has been late in formulating adequate policies to enable legal exploration of unconventional fossil fuels. For this very reason, Indian companies have not been able to harness the potential of this resource.
On 25th March, 2010, ONGC Board approved an R&D pilot project for exploration of Shale Gas at an estimated expenditure of Rs 128 Crores in the Damodar Basin where ONGC has ventured into exploration and production of Coal Bed Methane. Other major players such as Reliance Industries are yet to follow up.
Let’s hope that the nation emerges as a reserve for shale gas and makes optimum use of it.
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