Come 2015-16, shale gas extraction from abundant but unexploited reserves (or underground shale formations) could well become a reality in India, in spite of several hurdles like lack of adequate infrastructure and tricky regulation.
Should that come to pass, the country could catch up with the likes of the US and China which have been increasingly pursuing the natural energy resource.
“Based on interactions with the ministry concerned, I can say that the shale gas policy is likely to be announced by this month-end. The allocation of blocks should begin sometime in June this year,” said a source dealing with shale gas-related issues.
Several geophysicists have been exploring various modes to tap shale gas for years now.
And several corporates, too, have been keen to foray into the sector which is still nascent in India.
“We have been working at the Damodar basin, Canbay basin, Kaveri basin and parts of Jammu and Kashmir. We are also in touch with the government officials on the issue .We are hopeful that commercial scale operations could begin by 2015-16,” said A M Dayal, an emeritus scientist with the National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI) in Hyderabad and an authority on shale gas.
Scientists are currently working on the Vindhyan basin and the Kadapa basin, which are expected to be rich in shale gas reserves. “The other basins including Canbay are much younger. They don’t have the required silicate and it would make the fracking process difficult,” said Dayal.
Scientists have found gas potential in about 28 sedimentary basins so far. There is an estimated reserve of about 527 trillion cubic feet of shale gas in the country. Of this, about 40-50% is estimated to be recoverable.
Despite a study showing that the immense gas potential in shale formations could outlast oil and gas reserves, the policy framework is said to be unhelpful.
Inadequate infrastructure is a concern. So is the process of acquiring the land required for drilling.
“Government policy is going to be the key for tapping shale gas,” said Dayal.