India cleared the way for shale-gas exploration last week. The country meets nearly three-fourths of its energy needs through imports and it has been working on its coal and shale-gas policies for more than two years. The country has the world's fourth largest coal deposits as well as significant untapped shale-gas and oil potential.
In the first phase, the country seeks to allow two state-run companies—Oil & Natural Gas Corp. and Oil India Ltd -- to explore for and produce shale oil and gas in blocks they already control. Later, the government will allow other state-backed companies as well as private companies into shale-gas exploration and production, said one cabinet minister who didn't wish to be named.
India has about 63 trillion cubic feet of recoverable shale-gas reserves—more than 20 times the size of India's biggest-ever gas discovery and enough, if proven, to run the country's gas-fired power stations for 20 years or more, analysts say.This comes at a time when concerns are rising over the environmental impacts of fracking – the process of drilling the shale deposits- in the US where shale gas is now being harvested. Worries about triggering quakes and pollution of groundwater have been some of the major areas of debate. Can India handle the same?