India shifting focus from oil to gas

Monday, 29 November 2004, 08:00 Hrs
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GUWAHATI: India is shifting focus from crude oil for its energy requirements with foreign experts being called in to look for gas reserves in the bed of the mighty Brahmaputra river.

"The answer lies not in striking crude oil but finding more and more gas reserves in the country. Natural gas is going to be fuel of the future by substituting oil," Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar told reporters here.

"There were several geological obstacles in finding new oil reserves in India and hence our focus on gas now," he added.

The minister said two new gas fields were found in eastern Assam recently, while six more gas fields were under survey in the adjoining Arunachal Pradesh state. India's state-owned Oil India Limited (OIL) is bringing in six geo-physical contractors from the US, France, Poland and Britain next week for an on-the-spot survey of the Brahmaputra river, he added.

The six firms are Petroleum Geo Services, Western Geco and Grant Geophysical (all US), Compagnie Generale De Geophysique (France), Western Geco (Britain) and GT (Poland).

"One of the companies will get the contract for carrying out this exciting project of looking for gas reserves in the Brahmaputra riverbed," the minister said.

The entire operation, overseen by OIL is expected to cost about one billion rupees ($22.1 million), a company official said.

"We do not really know if we will strike gas but then there is a very strong potential and hence this risky venture," Aiyar said.

The 2,906 km long Brahmaputra is one of Asia's largest and most turbulent rivers, traversing its first stretch of 1,625 km in China's Tibet region, the next 918 km in India and the remaining 363 km through neighbouring Bangladesh before emptying into the Bay of Bengal.

India produces about 90 million standard cubic meters of natural gas per day against its daily demand of 120 million standard cubic meters. The projected demand of natural gas in India by 2020 stands at a staggering 400 million standard cubic meters a day.

"The answer to meeting the growing demand of natural gas is by increasing domestic production and importing gas by pipeline from Iran through Pakistan," the minister said.

"Much depends on the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline if we are to provide energy security in the country." Aiyar said, adding that newer technologies are to be invented if India wishes to increase crude oil production.

Source: IANS
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