The shortage of natural gas and the rocketing price of crude have many countries out to resolve this problem on a war footing. Shale gas has been found to be the most feasible alternative to natural gas. Especially since countries like India have rich deposits of this mineral lying between hard and impervious rocks that are impossible to mine with conventional drilling methods. Fifteen years ago Americans discovered fracking as a method of shale extraction. So far this has been a well kept trade secret for US and Canadian miners using technology based on fracking to extract shale oil.
There is a lot of confusion about the estimates of shale reserves and further confusion on how much is recoverable. In the USA the estimate run into billions of barrels of shale oil which has also been considered as a gross over estimate with the US Energy Information Administration snipping the estimates by over 96 percent.
In India, USEIA estimates it could be anywhere between 95 and 200 trillion cubic feet to solve the power situation at current consumption rates for the next 20 years. These reserves however are not private and Indians like many American landowners can never hope to become fortuitous shale gas millionaires as all deposits beneath the ground belong to the Indian government.
India’s fracking technology is a nascent one that is still looking for an answer. Unlike natural gas extraction, which is said to be a lot easier being found between soft and permeable rocks shale gas deposits lie sheathed between impermeable rocks that are hard to drill. Hydraulic fracturing or fracking is the primary key to shale gas extraction. Americans have been using their proprietary technology to extract shale oil, which they have not shared with anyone. Indian scientists hope to have an answer in the next couple of years.
The travails of shale gas extraction is large and weighty requiring very large quantities of water under pressure to pierce and fragment the rocks. When the extraction is along the coastline as in California, it has led to severe shortage of fresh water in times of drought. If the mining is inland then in India it is a toss-up between using water reserves for irrigation or fracking. Further, the process requires precision to prevent spills and contamination of ground water.
The path to finding success is strewn with difficulty with obstacles plentiful but the geologists will continue with their work of assessing and discovering India’s substantial shale rock deposits in the meantime.