No coal bed methane in Neduvasal, says ONGC

Pawan Kumar, Group General Manager, Basin Manager, Cauvery, ONGC (left), rubs crude oil on his hand to show it has no toxicity, in Tiruchi on Thursday.   | Photo Credit: B.Velankanni Raj

The Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Ltd (ONGC) is not carrying out exploration of shale gas or coal bed methane in Cauvery Basin and does not have any such plan, ONGC senior officials affirmed here on Thursday.

They dismissed apprehensions raised by farmers that coal bed methane and shale gas were sought to be extracted under the guise of the hydrocarbon exploration project at Neduvasal.

“As geo scientists we can assure there is no coal bed methane in Neduvasal. Similarly, the quality of shale required for shale gas extraction is also not available,” said Pawan Kumar, Group General Manager-Basin Manager, Cauvery, ONGC, addressing a press conference here.

Mr. Kumar said the ONGC followed international benchmarks relating to safety and environment protection. “It is true that delta areas are fertile, but they are also prolific producers of oil and gas. There has been no impact on agriculture due to our activity. There has been no depletion of groundwater or pollution,” Mr. Kumar said and urged people not to be misled by rumours and misinformation.

Mr. Kumar said the ONGC had sunk 13 exploratory wells between 1991 and 2008-09 in the Neduvasal area and of these only three were found to be hydrocarbon wells. The ONGC did not go ahead with production as they were small fields and not economical. Now that the Neduvasal DSF (Discovered Small Field) contract had been recommended for award to a private company, the ONGC had no role in the project any longer.

The exploration activities were carried out under a conditional petroleum mining licence valid till 2019. Answering a query on whether an extension of the licence was sought, Mr.Kumar clarified that the ONGC, on behalf of the Union government (as it was not known then who the contractor would be for the DSF), had applied for petroleum mining licence for the 10.1 square km area in Neduvasal in December last year, but the State government has not granted it yet.

Kulbir Singh, Executive Director, Cauvery Asset, ONGC, said no harmful chemicals were used in conventional drilling for oil and natural gas by ONGC. There was no chance for pollution as the wells were cased at multiple levels. No harmful chemical was used as drilling fluid and the waste water was treated at effluent treatment plants. Independent studies by State government agencies had found there was no change in the quality of groundwater around ONGC wells. “Wrong information is being spread about the operations and the apprehensions are baseless,” he said.

The Cauvery Asset of ONGC has been carrying out exploration and production of oil and natural gas from deep sedimentary basins ranging from 6,000 to 15,000 feet in depth over the past 50 years. The ONGC has established 31 oil and natural gas fields in Tamil Nadu and they were currently producing 840 tonnes of oil and 28 lakh cubic metres of natural gas a day. Over the past five years, ONGC has paid the State government ₹1816.43 crore as royalty and VAT/Sales tax.

The ONGC also restores lands acquired for exploratory wells which are subsequently found dry and abandoned to near original condition. So far, 21 such wells have been restored.

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Printable version | Sep 16, 2021 1:31:07 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/no-coal-bed-methane-in-neduvasal-says-ongc/article17634757.ece

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