KOCHI: For the past three decades, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) has been on the hunt for oil on Kerala-Konkan basin - but all proved futile.
The company has spent Rs 1,495 crore for the exploration. Even though the last exploration block was relinquished in July 2014, experts are of the view that there are hydrocarbons along the Kerala-Konkan coast. As per ONGC estimates, the resource base of the basin is of the order of 660 million tonnes. But, is there really oil on the coast?
Based on the exploration outcome since 1977, the answer can only be no. But what about the presence of gas? This is yet to be explored as wells have been drilled up to 4,600 metres in the basin, characterised by the presence of an opaque layer of ‘basalt’.
Basalt is a dark-coloured, fine-grained, igneous rock composed mainly of plagioclase and pyroxene minerals. Only a few wells have been drilled below the basalt.
Now ONGC is preparing a report with all the findings so far in order to find out whether gas is present on the basin.
“Drilling beneath the ‘basalt basement’ has not been done so far. Based on our findings there may be presence of gas in the region (and oil will only be of small quantity). We are preparing a report to explore the possibility. But it is a fact that when we drill in the earth gas will be produced. Hence, we have to look for the possibility of commercial production,” said an ONGC official, on condition of anonymity.
Giving room for possibilities of further exploration, ONGC in an RTI reply said that “the company (ONGC) will review exploration outcome during the last three decades and decide on any future ventures in the area.”
Now, after a gap of around two years, it seems the Kerala-Konkan basin once again comes into the limelight due to ‘gaseous’ reasons.
Oil exploration on the Kerala-Konkan basin has encountered difficulty due to thick basalt layer that masks deeper seismic events below. Only a few wells have penetrated below the basalt. Those have shown the presence of hydrocarbons, but production testing results were not encouraging. The structural style of Kerala-Konkan Basin is similar to Bombay Offshore Basin.
“For the past three decades many projects were carried out in the region but they proved futile. For many years, it was believed that there was oil deposit along the Cochin coast. With the possibility of new exploration, we can only wait and watch for the results,” said M P Sukumaran Nair, an energy expert and Director, Centre for Green Technology and Management.