NGRI finds gas hydrate reserves along east coast

Hyderabad: Scientists from the National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI), under the Ministry of Earth Sciences, have identified huge reserves of gas hydrates along the east coast of India.

The initial estimation of the reserves are said to be at least 1,500 times the country`s current fossil fuel reserves- coal, oil and natural gas put together, Kalanchand Sain, a senior scientist leading the research group in NGRI, told PTI.

Gas hydrates are crystalline solid and ice-like minerals that form at the low temperatures and high pressures in the deep sea. Hydrates contain gases, such as hydrocarbons that glue themselves inside symmetrical cages of water molecules to form hydrate crystals.

"These hydrates are not exploited anywhere in the world. So, we can say it is the future source of energy. The potential is huge and estimates reveal that it is more than two times the conventional foil gas and coal and a lot of research has to be done to develop newer technologies to extract those fuel reserves," Sain said.

The hydrate reserves are found at Krishna-Godavari basin, Mahanadi basin and Andaman region, he said. Though there were some signatures of reserves at Kerala-Konkan region, they were negligible, as compared to the eastern region, the scientist added. "These reserves are located at 500 meters deep in the sea and at present it is not economically viable to extract them with the available technology. Our research will continue for another five years," said Sain.

According to him, even if one per cent of the gas hydrate reserves are tapped, it would support country`s fuel requirements for ten years.

Government of India formulated the National Gas Hydrate Programme (NGHP) in 1997 for exploration and development of gas hydrates resources of the country.

The Director General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) is the coordinator of the Technical Committee of NGHP, which is a consortium of Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Ltd, GAIL India Ltd, Oil India Ltd and National Research Institutions (National Institute of Oceanography, National Geophysical Research Institute and National Institute of Ocean Technology).

Much of the work being done world over on gas hydrates, which are unconventional hydrocarbon deposits, is in the research stage. Hence, an extremely close coordination and work association is required with leading scientists globally, according to DGH website.