Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) may suspend its shale gas exploration plans due to India's depleting resources and attaining 'limited success' during the programme, two ONGC executives told Mint. The company, which has dug around 22-23 wells, had "limited success" in the exploration programme, the company's Chairman and Managing Director Shashi Shanker had said earlier. "The results are not very encouraging," Shanker said at a press conference.
The official further said that conditions for shale gas exploration are not conducive in India due to lack of huge water resources. Another issue is that for the exploration, major land acquisition is needed. Acquiring large land tracts for fracking, using water to break rocks, could lead to displacement of people. Shale gas, in recent times, has become an important energy source for major natural gas sources in North America, especially in the US and Canada.
The gas, drawn from non-porous rocks, has gained attention after it proved to be a competition to oil. Shale countries and Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) have been in price war due to the rising competition in the energy sources. Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan had earlier mooted to export energy sources from the North American countries because of the intense price war between crude and shale. The Ministry has also been exploring energy sources within the country and beyond the OPEC exports to deal with rising demand for energy sources.
However, the exploration within the country's borders does not seem to be encouraging.
ONGC's 2016-17 annual report shows that the company has identified 50 blocks under the first phase of the exploration programme. The state-owned firm has begun its shale exploration in four basins—Cambay, Krishna Godavari, Cauvery and the Assam-Arakan Basin. Experts suggest that even if India gives out good results while exploring, availability of land and water will be an issue. It is also possible that it might affect agricultural activities as the use of the water in exploring can contaminate the water. In US, the landowners, who lease their land, are given incentives for allowing the exploration on their lands.