Joining the global race to tap unconventional hydrocarbon sources to meet energy needs, India will launch its maiden bid round for exploration of shale gas during the 12th Plan Period (2012-17).
"The Government of India is planning first round of shale gas during 12th Plan Period (2012-17) after assessment of resources is completed," Directorate General of Hydrocarbon (DGH) Director General S K Srivastava said at the Shale Gas India 2011 conference here.
Shale gas or natural gas trapped in sedimentary rocks (shale formations) below the earth's surface, is the new focus area in the US, Canada and China as an alternative to conventional oil and gas for meeting growing energy needs. As per the available data, six basins -- Cambay (in Gujarat), Assam-Arakan (in the North-East), Gondawana (in central India), KG onshore (in Andhra Pradesh), Cauvery onshore and Indo Gangatic basins, hold shale gas potential, Srivastava said.
DGH has initiated steps to identify prospective areas for offering, he added. "Legislative changes will be required for shale gas exploration," Srivastava said, adding that simultaneous exploitation of different sources like shale gas and coal bed methane is required.
Currently, the policy allows exploration and production of conventional oil and gas and coal bed methane (CBM). However, shale gas exploration faces several challenges such as the availability of water and vast tracts of land. He said 3-4 gallons of water is required per well for hydraulic fracturing (pumping liquids down a well into subsurface under pressures that are high enough to fracture rocks to enable movement of hydrocarbons to the well bore).
Also, shale gas production requires drilling of large number of wells where land availability is an issue, he said, adding that disposal of water is also a challenge.
Oil Secretary G C Chaturvedi said India's gas demand is likely to rise from 290 million standard cubic meters per day in 2012-13 to 470 mmscmd in 2016-17. Against this, domestic supply will increase from 124 mmscmd to 220-230 mmscmd only.
The rest of the demand has to be met by either imports or through unconventional energy sources like shale gas, he said. "Water availability and disposal will be a huge problem in shale gas exploration," he said, adding that India has signed an MoU with the US for assessment of shale gas resource and developing policy framework to exploitation of the resource. Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) Chairman and Managing Director Sudhir Vasudeva said emissions from use of shale gas are higher than natural gas coal and so the environment impact too would need to be assessed.