Hurry up and approve gas hydrate exploration!

Vol 20, PW 16 (04 May 17) People & Policy

If not careful India will be left behind in the global race to produce commercial methane from gas hydrates.

ONGC sources blame bureaucracy at the slow-moving DGH upstream regulator. In the first week of April, ONGC wrote to the oil ministry for permission to begin the third National Gas Hydrates drilling programme or NGHP-03.

"The DGH is supposed to send the proposal to the ministry so it can be discussed by the NGHP-03 steering committee (headed by oil secretary KD Tripathi)," says a source. "But it is doing nothing.

The oil ministry wants NGHP-03 to begin fast. ONGC and all the other stakeholders are ready.

Only the DGH thinks the project is R&D; that it is too early to drill wells for pilot production testing." This, we hear, is astonishing if you consider that the offshore KG basin holds a staggering 134-tcf in hydrate form, according to an April 2016 report by Japan Drilling Company on the second hydrate drilling programme or NGHP-02. Of that, 20% or more than 26-tcf is recoverable.

ONGC estimates NGHP-03 will cost up to $250m and can be executed in six to eight months. In focus is the east coast KG basin where ONGC wants to drill five to six pilot test and monitoring wells to 200 to 500 metres in water depths of 1500 to 2500 metres.