India Plans to Launch Shale Gas Auction in August 2011
The identification of the gas producing areas will be done by early next year.
Major Indian energy companies like Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), which have so far been scouting overseas for shale gas resources, may get a chance to bid for domestic shale gas blocks in about a year. The country is looking to launch the first-ever auction of shale gas areas in August 2011.
The identification of the gas producing areas will be done by early next year, which will be followed by carving out suitable blocks. Jitin Prasada, minister of state for petroleum and natural gas, had recently called a meeting of officials in the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) and his ministry to discuss the future potential of shale gas. “The DGH has accordingly prepared a roadmap for the shale gas auction,” said a ministry official.
This will be the second unconventional natural gas source in India after coal bed methane. Several basins — Cambay (in Gujarat), Assam-Arakan (in the North-East) and Gondwana (in central India) are known to hold shale gas resources.
In March this year, the ONGC board approved a pilot project for exploration of shale gas in the Damodar Basin at an expenditure of Rs 128 crore.
DGH and the ministry would study worldwide fiscal and contractual regimes before framing a shale gas policy. It is being worked out and is likely to be in place by the end of the current financial year.
The Petroleum and Natural Gas Rules, which govern the oil and gas exploration activity, will be amended prior to the floating of the first round of auction.
India is also likely to sign a cooperation agreement with the US Geological Survey later this year for knowledge sharing in the area of shale gas. The US has successfully exploited its shale gas reserves, which currently account for 20 per cent of the country’s gas production. An Indian delegation was also expected to visit shale gas sites in the US sometime this year, the ministry official said. Countries like Canada and China are also increasingly exploiting their shale gas reserves.
Hydrocarbon found in the form of shale gas has over the past few years transformed the energy scenario for the world’s biggest energy consumer, the US. Indian energy companies have shown interest in developing this resource. While RIL recently acquired a 40 per cent stake in Atlas Energy’s Marcellus Shale acreage in the US, the Y K Modi-promoted Great Eastern Energy Corporation Ltd is keen to take part in the shale business.
Companies worldwide are increasingly looking at investing in shale gas, which they consider a lucrative business.
Source: Business Standard