ONGC gearing up to explore shale gas, coal-bed methane: Official

Our Bureau | | Updated on: Mar 13, 2018

India like the USA and other countries will have to depend increasingly on shale gas, coal-bed methane and other unconventional or non-conventional sources of energy.

The conventional ones are getting depleted and ONGC is also gearing up for the purpose, according to Narendra K. Verma, Director (Exploration).

He was delivering an endowment lecture at Andhra University on Wednesday on “Unconventionals - the new frontiers of hydrocarbon exploration”.

Large reserves

He said the US had large reserves of shale gas and the country had taken up production of such gas on a substantial scale.

“It requires horizontal drilling and well stimulation technologies to bring out shale gas in a cost-effective manner and it is being done in the US. Hydraulic fracturing (or fracking) is used in the drilling process — a mixture of water, sand and chemicals is pumped into the ground. Some of the dirty water returns and it has to be recycled,” he said.

He said ONGC had got technologies for horizontal drilling but it would be a costly proposition at present to exploit shale gas. It would require factory-mode of production and land and water — precious resources in an overpopulated country like India — would have to be diverted for the purpose.

“The population density is much lower in the US and they can afford to do it. But we have to wait for some more time but anyway we have made a beginning. We have taken up a pilot project for shale gas exploration in the Damodar basin and later we will take up such projects in the Krishna-Godavari basin, Cauvery basin and Assam. We have to assess the reserves first and then devise methods for economic exploitation of such resources,” he said.

Narendra Verma said CBM was also very important and ONGC had already forayed into it. He said per-capita consumption of gas in the country was still much lower than the world average but “it is bound to increase and with that increase the environmental problems will also rise correspondingly. Therefore, we have to search for cleaner sources of energy and shale gas offers the best solution.

But we have the other constraints unlike in the US and we have to overcome them.”

On the technological aspect, he said technologies used in the US could either be replicated or they could be used with some modifications, but “we have to address the other issues and challenges first.”

>sarma.rs@thehindu.co.in

Published on November 20, 2013
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