ONGC to seek help of smaller US fracking companies for shale exploration

Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC) had organised road show at Calgary in April to attract foreign companies to India, in order to meet immediate additional fracking demand, minister of state for petroleum and natural gas Dharmendra Pradhan informed the Rajya Sabha in a written reply today.

He said ONGC carries out frack jobs in nearly 120-140 wells per year by utilising their existing equipments.

To meet the additional work plan, ONGC is in the process of acquiring more fracking units for enhancing its in-house fracturing capacity, the minister said.

Various agencies have identified and estimated the extractable reserves of shale oil and gas in India, the minister said in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha today.

He said the combined shale gas potential in selected sedimentary basins in India has been estimated at 300 to 2,100 tcf.

He said the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) in 2011 estimated shale reserves of 290 tcf in four basins, namely, Cambay, KG, Cauvery and Damodar.

The US Geological Survey (USGS) in January 2012 estimated technically recoverable shale gas potential in India, in 3 basins, namely, Cambay, KG and Cauvery, at 6.1 tcf.

In 2013, the US EIA again estimated shale gas reserves of 584 tcf and 87 billion barrels of shale oil in 4 basins in India, namely, Cambay, KG, Cauvery and Damodar.

State-run ONGC had also, in 2013, assessed shale gas reserves in 5 basins, namely, Cambay, KG, Cauvery, Ganga and Assam and Assam (Arakan) at 187.5 tcf while the Central Mine Planning and Design Institute (CMPDI) in July 2013 estimated Shale Gas in Gondwana basin (including Damodar) at  45 tcf.

The government, on 14 October 2013, notified policy guidelines for exploration and exploitation of shale gas and oil by Indian oil companies in their on land petroleum exploration lease / petroleum mining lease blocks awarded under the nomination regimes.

Under this, Phase I of assessment, permission has been granted for 55 PEL/PML blocks (ONGC - 50, and OIL - 5)   for carrying out shale gas / oil exploration and exploitation activities.

These blocks are located in the states of Assam (6 blocks), Arunachal Pradesh (1 block), Gujarat (28 blocks), Rajasthan (1 block), Andhra Pradesh (10 blocks) and Tamil Nadu (9 blocks).

Under Phase-II of the assessment, ONGC and OIL have to identify an additional 75 and 5 blocks, respectively. Further, in Phase III, ONGC and OIL have to identify 50 and 5 blocks to carry out shale gas exploration and exploitation, he said.