Mineral Resources Current Affairs
Union Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has amended Petroleum and Natural Gas Rules 1959 to include shale in definition of petroleum. This change will allow private companies to explore and produce the resource in the blocks they already operate.
The updated definition of petroleum means naturally occurring hydrocarbons, whether in form of natural gas or in liquid, viscous or solid form, or mixture thereof, occurring in association with petroleum or coal or shale but does not include coal, lignite, and helium. Prior to this, definition excluded shale and therefore barred companies from exploiting it from fields that are producing conventional oil and gas or coal-bed methane.
The amendment of definition of petroleum will open up exploration of all hydrocarbons in existing fields which is line with new Hydrocarbon Exploration Licensing Policy (HELP). It will help in enhancing domestic exploration and production of hydrocarbons and increasing India’s energy security and reducing dependency on imports.
It is fine-grained sedimentary rock that forms from compaction of silt and clay-size mineral particles, commonly called as mud. The composition of shale places it in category of sedimentary rocks known as mudstones. Shale is distinguished from other mudstones due to laminated (rock is made up of many thin layers) and fissile (rock readily splits into thin pieces along the laminations) nature. Some shales have special properties that make them important resources. Black shales contain organic material that sometimes breaks down to form natural gas or oil.
Shale gas is natural gas formed from being trapped within shale formations. It is unconventional source of methane, like coal-bed gas (in coal seams) and tight gas (trapped in rock formations). It is colourless, odourless gas, lighter than air. It is cheaper than natural gas, releases 50% less CO2, hence better source for generating electricity. It also provides feedstock for petrochemicals industry, which is turned into fertilizer, plastics and other useful stuff. In India, potential shale gas sites are Cambay, Gondwana, Krishna-Godawari and Cauvery Basins.
State-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) has made oil discovery in WO-24-3 well located west of Mumbai High fields in Arabian Sea. The well is estimated to hold in-place reserve of about 20 million tonnes.
The new discovery comes almost 50 years after ONGC began production in Mumbai High, which is India’s biggest oil field. It currently produces 205,000 barrels of oil per day (just over 10 million tonnes per annum).
In all, ONGC had tested nine objects or zones and all of them were found to be hydrocarbon bearing. The last object tested flowed 3,300 barrels of oil. ONGC is also carrying out further appraisal of discovery and has intimated upstream regulator Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH). The new find will add to existing production capacity of Mumbai High in less than two years time. It will help ONGC to maintain production levels from basin for a longer time than currently estimated.
Mumbai High is ONGC’s flagship oil producing assets. It along with other small fields along western offshore have produced 16 million tonnes per annum of oil, which is 44% of India’s total crude oil production of 36 million tonnes. ONGC produced 25.5 million tonnes of oil in 2016-17, which will reach 28-29 million tonnes by 2019-20.
Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC)
ONGC is multinational oil and gas company headquartered in Dehradun, Uttarakhand. It is Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) under administrative control of Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas. It is India’s largest oil and gas exploration and production company. It produces around 77% of India’s crude oil (equivalent to around 30% of the country’s total demand) and around 62% of its natural gas.