‘Suitable environment should be created for nurturing this nascent and yet highly potential fuel source’

Land is one of the major challenges that would have to be handled strategically before India could tap its resources of shale gas, Chairman and Managing Director of Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, Sudhir Vasudeva, said.

Shale gas, which is natural gas trapped in shale formations, is being seen as a supplement to conventional oil and gas.

Delivering the keynote address at a discussion forum on “Shale gas: a game changer in energy” organised by the Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry, he said that shale gas needed large number of wells — two to six wells per sq. km.

“It is logical to apprehend severe land resistance, especially in areas such as Bardhaman in West Bengal where most land is arable.” Substantial amount of shale gas is found in the Damodar basin in this region. A pilot project has been launched by ONGC in Ranigunj and in North Karanpura.

Mr. Vasudeva said that strategic consideration was needed (by policy-makers) to make land owners agree to give land for development of these projects.

Given the rich recoverable deposits that had already been studied, there was scope for upward revision of existing estimates of the reserves of this fuel in India, he added.

“Amid numerous challenges in shale gas exploitation, Indian regulators should create an environment suitable for nurturing this nascent and yet highly potential fuel source,” he said.

He said ONGC was a front-runner in shale gas exploitation. The company had entered into an MoU with ConocoPhillips for undertaking further studies in four potential basins and plan for development of shale gas. Under the 2030 perspective plan, ONGC had created a centre of delivery for shale gas which was responsible for furthering the shale gas crusade in India.

“We are waiting for the first bid round of shale gas blocks proposed to be offered in late 2013,” he said.

West Bengal Industries Minister Partha Chatterjee said that the state would set up an expert committee to examine the entire issue (on West Bengal’s potential for developing this resource, and its problem with land availability). “I will talk to the Chief Minister,” he said.

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