VISAKHAPATNAM: In a quest that could answer all the concerns over India’s energy security for the next century, the Geological Survey of India (GSI) in collaboration with National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) has launched an exploration to locate traces of gas hydrate reserves off the East Coast, particularly in the Krishna-Godavari offshore basin.
Gas hydrates are solidified mixtures of compressed natural gas (CNG) and water that could meet the energy requirements of the entire nation.
Samurdra Ratnakara, an advanced research vessel of the GSI, set off from Mangalore on the mission three weeks ago, and is likely to conclude its first phase this month. Monitored by NIO scientists, the GSI vessel would make attempts to locate the gas hydrate reserves, which are found in the shallow sediments along the continental margins at about 1-2 km below the seabed.
About 20 scientists from the GSI branches in Mangalore, Kochi and Visakhapatnam along with the scientists from the Goa headquarters of the NIO, are participating in the study. In the seismic survey, it is proposed to cover an area of 19,000 sq km in the Cauvery-Mannar offshore basin, and another 6,100 sq km in the Krishna-Godavari offshore basin.
The gas hydrates can expand by about 140 times under normal temperature and pressure to produce CNG for domestic and industrial usage. “Traces of gas hydrates were discovered in the Indian waters and the current project would determine their exact location. With the help of the NIO scientists, we are trying to locate these reserves,” sources at the GSI told ‘Express’.
According to the scientists at National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI), methane within the gas hydrates is estimated to be more than 1,500 times of the present natural gas reserves available in the country. Though it is too early, the scientists are of the view that the utilization of even 10 per cent from this natural reserve is sufficient to meet the country’s energy requirement for about a century.
A batch of Indian scientists from various organisations ranging from the NGRI to the NIO and the GSI to Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) have been on the mission to find out the reserves of gas hydrates for the past few years. The DGH has set itself a deadline of mid-2015 to commence commercial production of methane from gas hydrates, as part of the Gas Hydrate Programme.