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Fire from Ice: A promising new Energy source of Natural Gas

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Natural Gas from Fire Ice

India is a land of diverse culture, huge population, slow development, medium standard of living. Majority of its people are employed in the agriculture sector and maximum of its population stay in rural areas. Despite these facts, the country is fourth largest nation in the world and is among one of the fastest developing countries in the world after China. With growth, demand for energy is increasing with each passing day. This resulted in a massive import of oil and natural gas. This import can be attributed as one of the key reasons for India’s huge trade deficit and is definitely a hurdle in the country’s growth.

Read about Advantages of Oil.

However, as it’s said there is light at the end of tunnel, something similar happened for India too. A technological breakthrough in Japan confirmed extraction of Natural Gas from sea-bed deposits of methane hydrate also known as “fire ice”. The news is definitely a ray of hope for India to lower its import as the country is home to some of the biggest methane hydrate reserves in the world. It will be economically very beneficial to the economy if the technological expertise allows us to extract the gas from the hydrate easily, safely and cheaply.

Technically speaking, methane hydrate is nothing but the mixture of natural gas and water which becomes white colored solid in cold, high-pressure conditions in deep sea-beds thus the name Fire Ice. Heating the solid with release the gas which can be used as a fuel.

Read about Natural Gas Uses.

Problems India might face during the extraction of Natural Gas from Fire Ice

Talking of the future course of action, India might face several economic and environmental challenges pertaining to the extraction of gas.

i) Leakage – During the process of extraction it is possible that some amount of gas is leaked to air which may be harmful.

ii) Increase in Temperature & Global Warming – Natural gas traps 15 times more heat than carbon dioxide thus it might lead to an increase in the average temperature for earth and also lead to problems related to global warming.

iii) Cost of Extraction – Also the cost of extraction will be high at approximately 30 USD/mmBTU which is double the spot rate in Asia and over nine times the rate in the US domestically. However with the technological advancement and economies of scale, the cost could be controlled and in the long run the fuel will be helpful and cheaper for the economy.

Read about Natural Gas Advantages.

Fire Ice in India & Globally

It is expected that the commercial production of gas can begin as early as 2016 and experiments are being conducted by the nations such as USA and China for exploration, however India is nowhere in the picture as of now. Global reserve estimates is expected in between 2,800 trillion to 8 billion trillion cu. metres of natural gas which is several times high than the global reserve of conventional gas. India is having a vast deposit of Fire Ice which is estimated to cross over 1800 trillion cubic meters. The deposits in the Krishna Godavari basin is world’s richest and biggest basin in the world, as explored by Indo US joint venture in 2006.

Talking about any national policy formulated by the government on gas hydrates we find billionaire Mukesh Ambani asked for the formulation of one, way back in 2006. However, government has not yet responded on the same and no policy on gas hydrates is in place. Also in India research for extraction is also slow as compared to nations like US, China, Japan and it has been several years that any National Gas Hydrate Program marine expedition occurred in India post 2006.

India might look to buy the technology of hydrate extraction from Japan so that some of the biggest Indian deposits found in K-G basin can be used for extraction. Technology in India could be only used after modification, as in India the gas is found in fractured shales unlike sandstone in Japan and US.


Thus to sum up we can say, India is having the resources which can help the country meet its energy requirements and reduce imports. Several steps such as joint ventures with Private Players, countries like US, Japan needs to be established which will help the country develop and explore the technical expertise. Oil companies should be encouraged to spend on national R&D rather than forcing for subsidies. The terrible distortion of priorities needs to be changed, only then India could be called an energy rich nation.



Niraj Satnalika

Niraj is an MBA in International Business (Finance). Prior to this he completed B.Tech in Electronics and Instrumentation. He is currently working with Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Kolkata in capacity of Consultant. Satnalika is actively involved with an NGO and works towards promoting education among the underprivileged.

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