Shale Gas in India: Look Before You Leap
Natural gas forms 9 per cent of the total commercial energy mix in India, but demand far exceeds supply, as shown in Figure 1. Part of the demand in 2012–13 was made up by the import of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the extent of 18 bcm.Several power plants, which were in operation, or ready for commissioning, or in an advanced state of construction, representing about 10,000 MW of generation capacity, were, however, idle for want of gas. The exploration and production of shale gas in the United States (US) has been a game changer, making the country self-sufficient in natural gas over the last few years. This has created considerable excitement globally, particularly in Europe. India is also looking at exploring shale gas domestically to fill in the supply–demand gap. But will what works for the US also work for Europe and India? This policy brief explores this question in the context of India. It explains the nature of shale gas, the technology for its extraction from underground sources, and its potential for India. It also highlights overseas acquisitions of this resource by Indian companies even before it is sourced domestically, and then examines the viability of the technology in India. One of the key determinants of the viability of this technology is the availability of large quantities of clean water. This policy brief raises a red flag on this complementary input for exploiting shale gas resources in India, given that India is a water stressed country, and is fast approaching water scarcity conditions.