Wildlife sanctuary halts ONGC drilling in Tripura

Vol 5, PW 13 (15 Aug 01) People & Policy
     

Environmental groups have sabotaged ONGC plans to drill for gas in the Trichna region of Tripura.

In April this year the environment ministry in Delhi declared a 150-km patch around Trichna a wildlife sanctuary. Two years ago ONGC drilled two wells in Trichna and found commercially viable quantities of natural gas.

Trichna is located 20-km east of the Bangladesh border. Success at Trichna prompted ONGC to explore at Boxnagar on the Bangladesh border where it struck gas.

ONGC believes Boxnagar is an extension of the Brahmanbaria-Titas gas structure in Bangladesh and wants to know if it extends to Trichna. Additional exploratory wells were planned before the environment ministry intervened.

Now ONGC is ready for a fight, ably assisted by the Tripura state government. I refuse to accept the ban on us drilling in the region, Pranab Adak, Regional Director, Central Regional Business Centre, tells Petrowatch.

Trichna is not a wildlife area; it is thickly populated with 550 persons to a square kilometre and has roads and electricity. This is environmental fundamentalism." Environmentalists counter by saying the wildlife area contains bison, tigers, monkeys and birds and is in a 10-km stretch adjacent to the Sepaijhala forest sanctuary.

Adak wants ONGC chairman Subir Raha to intervene. On 23rd July Tripura Industries Minister Pabitra Kar sent a protest letter to the environment ministry in Delhi.

Trichna Extension bordering the Chittagong Hill Tracts has estimated recoverable gas reserves of 2.1bn cubic metres. ONGC estimates 26bn cubic metres of recoverable gas reserves in Tripura as a whole.

Estimates of in-place gas reserves for Tripura are around 50bn cubic metres Trichna gas is located in shallow sand and for ONGC, cheap to develop