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India will unveil a shale gas exploration policy in next fortnight as it looks to exploit unconventional hydrocarbon resource to meet its growing energy needs.
"We will take a shale gas policy to the Cabinet (for approval) in couple of days," Oil Minister M Veerappa Moily said at a function here organised to mark the beginning of natural gas sales from the predominantly oil-rich Rajasthan block.
The policy, based on which the government will launch its first auction of shale gas block by 2013-end, is likely to be approved by the Cabinet in 10 to 15 days, he said.
Shale gas blocks will be offered on terms that are likely to be remarkably different from those offered in bid rounds for oil and gas blocks.
Shale gas or natural gas trapped in sedimentary rocks (shale formations) below the earth's surface, is the new focus area in the US, Canada and China as an alternative to conventional oil and gas for meeting growing energy needs.
As per the available data, six basins -- Cambay (in Gujarat), Assam-Arakan (in the North-East), Gondawana (in central India), KG onshore (in Andhra Pradesh), Cauvery onshore and Indo Gangatic basins, hold shale gas potential.
"In US, the advent of shale gas has transformed the energy landscape over the past six years. It has made US a gas surplus nation from a gas importing country," he said.
Canada too has changed after shale gas, he said.
The Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH), the Oil Ministry's technical arm, has proposed to offer areas for exploration shale gas on royalty and production-linked payments to the government.
The government, he said, is working on a new policy for exploiting gas lying below coal seams, called Coal-Bed Methane.
Moily said he has formed an expert committee under Vijay Kelkar to suggest roadmap for cutting India's dependence on imports to meet its oil needs.
India currently imports as much as 79 per cent of its oil needs and the Ministry wants this to be cut to 50 per cent by 2020 through intensive exploration and exploitation of untapped reserves.
"I see import dependence coming down by 50 per cent by 2020 and by 75 per cent in 2025. By 2030, we should be self- reliant," he said.
Moily said the idea is to create an investor-friendly environment that will encourage companies to take exploration risk to raise production.
"Already we have taken a decision to fast track approvals for exploration projects by reducing the time taken from 36 months to 18 months," he said.
Different studies have put recoverable reserves of shale gas between 6 trillion cubic feet and 63 trillion cubic feet.
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