A large natural gas discovery has been made in the Indian Ocean following a joint expedition by India and the U.S., opening up a new resource to meet energy needs.
India’s Oil Ministry and the US Geological Survey made the discovery of large, highly enriched accumulations of natural gas hydrate — an icy form of the fuel — in the Bay of Bengal.
This is the first discovery of its kind in the Indian Ocean that has the potential to be producible,” the US agency said in a statement.
India had in September 2014 agreed to collaborate to explore gas hydrates potential in the country and identify sites for pilot production testing.
What are gas hydrates?
Natural gas hydrates are a naturally occurring, ice-like combination of natural gas and water found in oceans and polar regions. The amount of gas within the world’s gas hydrate accumulations is estimated to greatly exceed the volume of all known conventional gas resources.
They are considered as vast resources of natural gas and are known to occur in marine sediments on continental shelf margins. Gas hydrate resources in India are estimated at 1,894 trillion cubic meters and these deposits occur in Western, Eastern and Andaman offshore areas.
Advances like the Bay of Bengal discovery will help unlock the global energy resource potential of gas hydrates as well as help define the technology needed to safely produce them,” said Walter Guidroz, USGS Energy Resources Program coordinator.
Most comprehensive gas hydrate field venture in the world to date’
This discovery is the result of the most comprehensive gas hydrate field venture in the world to date, made up of scientists from India, Japan and the United States.
The discovery follows an exploration of the region from March to July of last year “The scientists conducted ocean drilling, conventional sediment coring, pressure coring, downhole logging and analytical activities to assess the geologic occurrence, regional context and characteristics of gas hydrate deposits in the offshore of India,” the statement said.
The next steps for research will involve production testing in these sand reservoirs to determine if natural gas production is practical and economic.