Shale Gas is a form of natural gas that is trapped within shale (a fine grained sedimentary rock) formations, shale gas is known for more than a century. It was not seen as a viable alternative to petroleum fuels because shale drilling (which is done horizontally) is more expensive than conventional oil drilling. Shale was not worth extracting with conventional technology. Now a new technology, 'fracking', plus horizontal drilling, have greatly increased shale gas productivity, so extraction is now viable. Gas can readily substitute fuel oil in industry and power generation, and kerosene in cooking. But the bulk of oil consumption is in transport.
Shale gas has the potential to transform the entire geopolitics of world. It is because
- Shale gas can hugely reduce the dependence of most countries (including India) on imported energy.
- Second, the geopolitical clout of major gas exporters — Russia, Iran, Algeria, Bolivia — will fall dramatically.
- Third, some countries may start converting their transport fleets into gas-based ones, hitting the demand for and prices of petrol and diesel.
- Fourth, converting gas into oil will become economic.
- Fifth, The major International Shipping transport route is likely to undergo major change. For example, the finding of oil shale in Brazil and Venezuela along with massive deposits of shale oil in Canada has altered the American shipping route by concentrating its movement North South of Americas, rather than the whole of the world.
- The American interest in Persian Gulf has seen a major decline.
- The concentration of shale oil deposits in Ukraine has allowed Ukraine to bargain with Russia, as it may not be dependent on Russian oil at all. That will allow it to take help of American technology.
- The clout of OPEC has decreased and so have been the falling oil prices.
India has large shale deposits, with good prospects in the Gangetic plain, Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujarat. Tamil Nadu , Andhra and the north-east.
Large shale gas discoveries should embolden India to convert transport fleets in all cities from petrol and diesel to CNG. That will reduce not only energy dependence but pollution too.
PROSPECTS & SIGNIFICANCE OF SHALE GAS FOR INDIA
India has signed a memorandum of understanding with the United States Geological Survey for cooperation. The USGS is to identify the potential areas and amount of gas available in India.
The petroleum ministry has identified six basins for exploration in the first phase-Cambay, Krishna-Godavari, Cauvery, Ganga, Gondwana and Assam-Arakan.
1. The Assam-Arakan basin is considered to have significant shale gas deposits.
2. Unlike conventional oil fields are drilled first vertically and then horizontally. Shale gas is found in tight reservoirs that have poor permeability. Water, air, chemicals and sand are forced at great pressure down the drill and through perforations in the rock to stimulate the flow of gas. This process is known as hydraulic fracking. Availability of abundant water is major pre-requisite for this process.
3. Recently completed drilling of four wells in Durgapur, Raniganj, Jharia and North Karanpura near Hazaribagh. We are studying these sample for gas potential. Reliance Industries is also making rapid moves in the field. It has acquired 45 per cent stake each in Atlas Energy's Marcellus Shale.
1. Not going to be an easy affair as land acquisition could be a major problem Gangetic basin are densely inhabited. Shale gas is a land and water intensive project.
2. Hydraulic fracking, which is used for shale gas drilling, is fraught with environmental challenges, said environmentalists. Where fracking used, the ground water had been found contaminated by methane.