Thursday, May 21, 2009

Geo-scientists recommend resuming of oil, hydrocarbons exploration in J&K

Notwithstanding the fact that the violence and bloodshed in the past 20 years of insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir forced discontinuation of exploration of oil and gas activities in the region, two internationally acclaimed geo-scientists and researchers today strongly recommended the agencies like the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) to resume their operations in Jammu and Kashmir adding that it was also a high time to formulate an oil exploration policy for the J&K state.
Jammu and Kashmir is considered to have potentially rich rocks of two petroleum systems, geo-thermal energy which needs to be tapped. But focused research need to be initiated for the same. Though in the past, ONGC had started petroleum exploration in the state, it suspended all its activities in the field 22 years ago in 1987 in Jammu and Kashmir and since then it has not resumed its exploration works in the violence-hit state.
Dr. Bindra Thusu, professor, Maghreb Petroleum Group at the University College London, and Professor G. M. Bhat, Geology Department, University of Jammu, today strongly recommended the ONGC to resume hydrocarbon exploration in the state of Jammu and Kashmir with new technology in place as compared to the time when the exploration was stopped.
Delivering a presentation on “Hydrocarbon Exploration Activity in Jammu and Kashmir State: Current Status” at a three-day international workshop on "Energy Challenges in Jammu and Kashmir State: A case study for the Energy Research Institute" being organized jointly by University of Kashmir, University of Jammu and Maghreb Petroleum Research Group, University College London at University of Kashmir, the two geo-scientists said militancy, undoubtedly was cause of concern and security became an issue which forced companies like ONGC to move away from Jammu and Kashmir. However, they rued that oil exploration and drilling continued in other violence-hit Indian states like Assam and other northeastern states.
The ONGC had suspended all its activities in petroleum exploration 22 years back in 1987 in Jammu and Kashmir, Previously two wells drilled in Tertiary sequence of Jammu failed due to technological failure mainly due to high pressure. Drilling in Kashmir was confined to Karewa beds only and the gas seeps in Kashmir valley can be of thermogenic origin and need to be ascertained.
“Militancy stopped oil and hydrocarbon exploration in J&K. The only activity DGH undertook was inclusion of potentially prospective blocks in NELP (New exploration licensing policy) VII and NELP VIII rounds in 2008 and 2009. In the final NELP VII and NELP VIII rounds these blocks were dropped by the Ministry of Petroleum,” informed Professor Thusu who is based in London.
The ONGC had a plan to drill in Rajouri District but violence hampered their operations. The drilling rigs were moved from the state in 1987 and never returned till today. Sadly, the reason being projected for this was the turmoil in the state while other hand militancy-hit states like Assam and other eastern states of India continued oil exploration by the same companies.
Strongly recommending the ONGC to resume its activity in J&K, Prof Thusu and Prof Bhat backed by the other geoscientists attending the conference suggested that the Directorate of Geology and Mining be re-organized as the Directorate of Energy, Geo-science and Mining and the proposed Directorate should initiate research for hydrocarbons on the model of Gujarat Sate Oil Corporation and ONGC should provide the data on the exploration activity done by them. 
The data, they added, should be utilized in collaborative research between the universities of J&K and the proposed Directorate 
Regarding hydrocarbon prospectivity in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, the geo-scientists informed that to prove an area to be potentially prospective a period of 3-5 years of research is required. J&K, they added, is already on the hydrocarbon prospective map of India and to find leads and prospects takes another 5-8 years of research.
Given these time constrains in view, they said, it is high time to formulate an oil exploration policy for the J&K state. In this regard a modest beginning has been made in the Geology Department of Jammu University in collaboration with University College London and University of Lille. 
Professor Bhat informed that Jammu University organized an international conference on Hydrocarbon potential in the year 2008. Two Ph. D. studies on aspects of petroleum geology in collaboration with UCL and Lille France are working on the Sirban Limestone in Jammu region of the state. In addition a multidisciplinary and multi-institutional team including Jammu University has started preliminary work in Kashmir region. Introduction of M. Tech course in Petroleum Geology and Energy resources is in offing at JU in 2010 (in co-operation with UCL and Eni, the 6th largest oil company in the world via Maghreb Petroleum Research Group).