India’s gas hydrates
COMMERCIAL PRODUCTION IS STILL A DECADE AWAY,
BUT NGH ARE A POTENTIAL GAME-CHANGER FOR INDIA
MANISH VAID, OBSERVER RESEARCH FOUNDATION, NEW DELHI
THE UNITED STATES GEOLOGICAL SURVEY (USGS), which
is involved in natural gas hydrate (NGH) research in India and
Japan, has assisted the Indian Oil Ministry in discovering highly
enriched accumulations of NGH in the Bay of Bengal. This discovery is the first of its kind with a potentially producible large
accumulation of gas hydrates in the Krishna Godavari Basin, off
India’s east coast.
Hydrate Energy International (HEI) has estimated India’s NGH
resource potential at 933 trillion cubic feet, which could represent
a global energy game changer, provided the technologies for gas
production from hydrate reservoirs are established
While research and development organizations around the
world are defining and developing multiple techniques to explore
and exploit natural gas hydrates, the Indian government is mulling
production testing for some of these reserves.
The biggest incentive behind accelerating research and devel-
opment of NGH is its abundance, which surpasses all other global
fossil fuels combined. Therefore, this resource could become an
energy game-changer for the world, solving the energy woes of a
number of countries, such as India, which currently must import
a high percentage of their fuel supplies.
The second biggest motivation for developing NGH is that they
are widely distributed in marine surroundings, where 99% of global
inventory is located. The remaining 1% is present in the permafrost
in Arctic regions.
India would do well to develop its own NGH reservoirs and
fast-track its NGH program to deal with its increasing energy
demand, uncertainty of its supplies, and urgent need to reduce
greenhouse gases (GHG). However, like other countries, India,
too, is in a nascent stage of developing its NGH resources, in part
due to economic and technical challenges.
WHAT ARE NATURAL GAS HYDRATES?
The term NGH is used interchangeably with “methane hydrate,”
“gas hydrate,” and “clathrate.” These are solid ice-like combinations