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India's shale gas exploration policy to be ready in a year

Hyderabad, Dec 8 (IANS) India's shale gas exploration policy is likely to be ready within a year as it prepares for its exploration to meet the huge gap between demand and supply of natural gas, Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas Pannabaka Lakshmi said Saturday.

She told a conference on natural gas organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) here that shale gas has emerged as an important new source of energy in the country.

"The draft policy of shale gas exploration is already discussed with various stakeholders and is likely to be ready within a year," she said

Shale gas, a natural gas formed from being trapped within shale formations, has helped the US achieve self-sufficiency in the energy sector.

A study by US Energy International Agency estimates India's shale gas reserves at about 290 trillion cubic feet (TCF), of which 63 TCF could be recovered.

The production of natural gas in India was 135 MMSCMD (million metric standard cubic metrs per day) during 2011-12 as against a requirement of about 200 MMSCMD. The country currently imports 25 percent of natural gas.

Pannabaka Lakshmi said the national endeavor to bridge the ever-increasing gap between demand and supply of petroleum products in India by intensifying exploratory efforts for oil and gas in the Indian sedimentary basins and abroad need to be supported by other alternate sources of energy like coal bed methane, shale gas, gas hydrates, ethanol and bio-diesel.

India is world's fourth largest consumer of primary energy and accounts for nearly 4.6 percent of world's energy consumption after China, US and Russia.

During 2011-12, the consumption of petroleum products was about 148 million metric tonne (MMT) showing an import dependence of more than 75 percent.

Natural gas sector constitutes about 9.8 percent of primary energy consumption which is likely to grow up to 20 percent by 2025 as per Indian Hydrocarbon vision. About 65 percent of natural gas consumption is consumed by power and fertilizer sectors.

Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board chairman S. Krishnan said India needs to evolve a strategy to meet significantly higher share of energy needs from natural gas.

"The challenge is to take the contribution of natural gas in the country's energy basket from around 10 percent to 25 percent in the medium term," he said.

Coal currently accounts for 53 percent of the country's energy needs. However, the huge rising gap between demand and supply of coal, coal import price of coal and environmental concerns will limit its use.

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