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India takes its first step into shale gas, oil exploration

Richa Mishra
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N.K. Verma, Director- Exploration, ONGC
N.K. Verma, Director- Exploration, ONGC

ONGC to dedicate Cambay Basin well to the nation today

On Tuesday, ONGC will dedicate the first shale well spud in Gujarat’s Cambay Basin to the nation in the presence of Minister for Petroleum & Natural Gas, M. Veerappa Moily.

ONGC had first struck shale gas in a pilot project at Ichhapur in Burdwan, West Bengal.

“The drilling of Jambusar-55 (well in the Gujarat block), the first well under the pilot programme, started on October 27,” said N.K. Verma, Director-Exploration, ONGC.

As on November 24, the well has been drilled to a depth of 1,735 metres, and further drilling is in progress.

On the cost involved in shale drilling, Verma said, “The cost, at present, is similar to what is spent on drilling a conventional onland well.”

A conventional well costs about $6-7 million. “But, since this will require further assessment, the cost will be slightly higher – cushion of a million dollars more,” he added.

Conoco pact

ONGC had signed a memorandum of understanding with the ConocoPhillips, US. The two undertook joint studies of the four basins: Cambay, Krishna Godavari, Cauvery and Damodar.

Based on the studies, a shale gas pilot drilling programme was firmed up in the Broach depression area of Cambay Basin in technical collaboration with Conoco.

Asked whether Conoco will be a partner in the block, Verma said the US firm did not want to share the costs, therefore, ONGC was doing it on its own.

Other projects

ONGC plans to follow this pilot project in Cambay Basin with similar drilling programmes in other basins, according to the guidelines of New Shale Gas Policy announced recently.

The policy allowed ONGC and OIL the right to explore shale gas and oil in their nomination blocks. While ONGC will take up 175 blocks, Oil India will do it in 15 blocks in three assessment phases.

According to the policy, ONGC will get 50 blocks in the first phase, another 75 blocks in the second and 50 blocks in the third phase. Oil India would take up five blocks each in all three phases.

The US Energy Information Administration estimates India’s total reserve recoverable shale gas at 96 trillion cubic feet (TCF).

richa.mishra@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on November 25, 2013)
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