The Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry has circulated a note on the new shale gas policy for inter-Ministerial consultations.

After receiving comments, it would be placed before the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) for final approval.

The nod from the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) is crucial as the `fracking’ of shale gas, as the process is called, consumes a lot of water resources at the local level.

“With shale gas emerging as an important new source of energy, India has also decided to tap this potential and has identified several sedimentary basins such as Cambay, Gondwana, Krishna Godawari onland and Cauvery with the help of various U.S. agencies. After the formal approval of the policy, these blocks will be put up for auction,” a senior official said.

The Government has already authorised the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) to identify prospective areas of shale gas exploration. A multi-organisational team, comprising the DGH, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, Oil India Limited and GAIL India, has been formed to suggest a methodology for shale gas development in the country.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry and the Department of Energy, U.S., has been put in place for assessing shale gas resources in India, for imparting training to Indian geo-scientists and engineers and seeking assistance in formulating a regulatory framework.

The Petroleum Ministry had also asked the U.S. Geological Survey to identify reserves, transfer technology required to tap them, and finalise a policy for exploration. According to estimates, shale gas reserves in India may be larger than proven conventional gas deposits.

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