What is Shale Gas?

Shale Gas refers to the natural gas that is trapped within shale formations. Lately Shale gas has become an important source of fuel in the United States and the rest of the world itself has taken interest in the shale formations within their geographical boundaries.

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Overview of Shale Gas

Shales are fine-grained sedimentary rocks that can be rich sources of petroleum and natural gas. Energy Information Administration of the USA predicts that by 2035, more than 45% of US Natural gas supply will come from shale gas. China is estimated to have the world’s largest reserves of shale gas.

Because shales ordinarily have insufficient permeability to allow significant fluid flow to a wellbore, most shales are not commercial sources of natural gas. Shale gas is one of a number of unconventional sources of natural gas; others include coalbed methane, tight sandstones, and methane hydrates.

How is Shale Gas Produced?

Shale Gas is produced through a method known as hydraulic fracturing, most popularly known as fracking. Shale gas reserves are usually distributed horizontally rather than vertically. Initially, deep holes or vertical wells are drilled down into the targeted shale rock formations, this is followed by horizontal drilling, it helps in providing greater access to the gas trapped deep in the shale rock formations. Subsequently, fracking fluids are pumped into the drilled holes at very high pressures. Fracking fluids are made of water, sand and chemicals. This fracking liquid opens up fractures in the rocks, thus enabling trapped gas to flow through fractures into collection wells.

Is Shale Gas Bad for Environment?

There are some potentially negative impacts of shale gas extraction.

  1. Impact on availability of water for other purposes, since fracking requires a huge quantity of water.
  2. Fracking can produce huge quantities of wastewater that contains chemical contaminants.
  3. Researchers found out that shale gas wells leak substantial amounts of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

What is the Shale Gas Reserves in India?

As per the NITI Aayog Report, India has 96 Trillion Cubic feet of recoverable Shale gas resources.

  • The recoverable reserves are identified in 
    • Cambay, 
    • Krishna – Godavari, 
    • Cauvery, 
    • Damodar Valley, 
    • Upper Assam, Assam-Arakan Basin
    • Pranahita – Godavari, 
    • Rajasthan and Vindhya Basins.
  • The Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) has drilled the first exploratory shale gas well in Jambusar near Vadodara, Gujarat, in Cambay basin during October 2013.
  • The Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas, Govt. of India with respect to policy dated 14th October 2013 granted permission for Shale gas and oil exploration and exploitation initially only by NOCs (ONGC & OIL) in on-land nomination blocks. 
  • Currently, ONGC has identified and initiated exploration activities for Shale Gas & Oil in 50 nomination blocks under Phase I.
  • And also, OIL has identified and initiated exploration activities for Shale Gas & Oil in 6 nomination blocks respectively under Phase-I. 
  • Legal Status of Shale Gas in India
    • The subject of Hydrocarbons falls under the legislative domain of the central government.
    • Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP) was implemented by the central government, which allowed exploration of all kinds of hydrocarbons in the block. 
    • The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas released a “Draft Policy for the Exploration of Shale Oil and Gas in India” in 2012.



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