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Scaling New Heights
Oil and gas industry drives the economic growth of any country. India has prepared a roadmap to achieve energy self-sufficiency by 2030. Indian oil and gas sector is exploring new techniques and methods to reach the target. This article throws light on various conventional and unconventional methods to enhance oil and gas production.

Hydrocarbon sector plays a vital role in the economic growth of any country. Given the ever-increasing demand for crude oil, key driver and deterrent of country’s import bill and in-turn trade deficit would be the global energy price. India’s domestic oil and gas production have also dipped to around 5 per cent Year-On-Year. India’s hydrocarbon sector industries, along with government impetus, is focusing on having a long-term policy for the hydrocarbon sector by adding more reserves, maximising production, achieving cleaner and more energy efficient production. We need to ensure that we stay focused on oil security, technological advancements in exploration & production (E&P) and use of alternative fuels in order to meet energy requirement of the country.

India's oil & gas industry originated in Assam when oil was first struck at Digboi in Assam in 1889. Initially, oil exploration and production concentrated in the North-Eastern region, particularly Assam where the daily crude oil production averaged just around 5,000 barrels per day. The first refinery was set up at Digboi in 1901, as an advent in the downstream sector. The Government of India realised that oil & Gas sector plays an important role in the overall economic growth of the country and subsequently announced that petroleum would be a core sector industry, under the Industrial Policy Resolution of 1954. Government of India has further introduced many schemes and initiatives to ensure that India’s energy demand is met. Announcement of New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) in 1997, as part of its Hydrocarbon Vision 2025 by Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas India, is a landmark 25-year planning document in this direction. It also stresses on awarding licenses for exploration through competitive bidding system in order to attract major oil and gas companies by expeditious evaluation of bids and award of contracts on a time bound basis.

As mentioned in the Hydrocarbon Vision 2025, the gap between supply and availability of crude oil, petroleum products as well as gas from indigenous sources is likely to increase over the years as follows:

In order to meet the oil & gas demand, enhance hydrocarbon reserves and increase oil and gas production; Indian Oil & Gas Industry is exploring and implementing various options including effective project management techniques, focus on R&D and utilising latest technological breakthroughs. Project Management Principles as professed by Project Management Institute (PMI) play a very pivotal role in seamless execution of projects.

Due to increased necessity for optimising the natural resources, organisations have been stressing on various advancements over and above the conventional methods used in the hydrocarbon sector. In line with the global ideologies, Samsung Heavy Industries India Pvt. Ltd. also ensures that design and engineering of offshore projects comply with the statutory rules and regulations and address Health, Safety, Security and Environment (HSSE) concerns. Samsung Heavy Industries India Pvt. Ltd. endeavors to recommend various value engineering suggestions and optimised solution themes to customers as part of effective project execution.

Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR)
EOR is used to mobilise and recover that percentage of residual oil that cannot be captured by water flooding alone, or by the use of physical, mechanical, or procedural processes. EOR technologies are specifically designed to affect mostly the oil that remains in the reservoir. Few of the most commonly used EOR technologies include gas processes like nitrogen and carbon dioxide (CO2), thermal processes like steam and fire-flooding, and a variety of chemical processes that include surfactant, surfactant-polymer (S-P), and alkaline-surfactant-polymer (ASP).

EOR increases the amount of crude oil that can be extracted from a field, over and above conventional primary depletion or basic water flooding which typically will recover 20 per cent to 40 per cent of the stock tank oil initially in place (STOIIP). By using typical EOR methods, an additional 10 per cent to 20 per cent of STOIIP can be extracted from a field. Cairn India Ltd. has been using this technology in oil fields in Barmer, Rajasthan, India and Oil & Natural Gas Corporation Ltd. (ONGC) in 14 fields. However, more efforts are required to minimise the environmental impact of using polymers and chemicals. We need to develop environmentally acceptable production and treatment systems through a holistic environment management system that include resource recovery and energy use.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is the process of extracting natural gas from shale rock layers deep within the earth. Fracking makes it possible to produce natural gas through extraction in shale rocks that were once unreachable with conventional technologies. Recent advancements in drilling technology have led to new man-made hydraulic fractures in shale rocks that were once not available for exploration.

India will allow explorers to produce shale oil and gas for the first time as Asia’s second-biggest energy consumer seeks to cut reliance on imports. India will launch its first-ever bid round for exploration of shale oil and gas by December 2013.

Under a new policy aimed at boosting domestic output of fossil fuels, companies will be allowed to extract oil and gas from shale rocks in more than 250 blocks in India. Six basin; Cambay, Assam-Arakan, Gondawana, KG onshore, Cauvery onshore and Indo Gangetic basins, that may have shale gas potential. It is estimated that this will slash the energy import bill by 50 percent in seven years and to zero by 2030.

However, Fracking technology is not immune to controversies. Anti-Fracking communities strongly believe that clearing land to build new access roads and new well sites, drilling and encasing the well, fracking the well and generating waste and trucking out the vast amounts of toxic waste contribute to air and water pollution risks. Global regulators, in turn, periodically assess pollution risks and delve on the fact that natural gas is the cleanest-burning conventional fuel, producing lower levels of greenhouse gas emissions than heavier hydrocarbon fuels such as coal and oil.

Multi Phase Pumping
Multi Phase Pumping involves transportation of a mixture of oil, water and gas from a producing well to a distant processing facility. This differs from the conventional technology in which fluids are separated before being pumped and then compressed through separate pipelines. It is estimated that by using this technology, there is around 30 per cent savings in cost also due to reduction in Capex, increase in well fluid flow and decreased footprint of operations. This technology has been used in Rawa field, Cairn India and by ONGC, India.

Deep Sea Drilling
Deep sea drilling is the exploration and extraction of petroleum and natural gas at depths of several thousands of feet (approx. one thousand meters). Both oil exploration and gas exploration deep sea drilling have only become feasible in the 21st century for several key reasons. More organisations are concentrating on deep sea drilling due to the fact that rising price for fossil fuel commodities as well as advances in technology have made the practice more proven and also the fact that lower-risk conventional oil basins are maturing.

In a recent development, ONGC drilled a well at a world record 3,165 meters water depth offshore country’s east coast with Reliance Industries rig. The DDKG1 rig drilled well NA7-1 in exploratory block KG-DWN-2004/1 in India’s east coast at a water depth of 3,165 meters.

Coal Bed Methane (CBM)
CBM has become one of the most important energy sources of last few decades in the unconventional energy sector. As per Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) database, India is having the third largest proven coal reserves and is the 4th largest coal producer in the world. Prognosticated CBM resource has been estimated to be around 4.6 Trillion Cubic Meter (tcm).

ONGC has firmed up plans to rope in strategic private sector investors in CBM assets in West Bengal and Jharkhand. ONGC has found four areas in eastern region; Raniganj (West Bengal) and Dhanbad, Bokaro and Hazaribag in Jharkhand; which have CBM reserves. Each block is estimated to have approximately one trillion cubic feet of methane reserves.

We need however to take care of the environmental concerns as the residual water produced due to the result of coal seam dewatering is highly saline in content and could possibly be toxic to the soil quality and vegetation in the immediate environs of a CBM project.

India's hydrocarbon sector is witnessing massive growth and as a result many innovative technologies are being utilised and further researched including:

• Intelligent Wells
• Intelligent Platforms
• Digital Oil Fields
• Subsea Processing
• Coal Gasification
• Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), Gas to Liquid (GTL) and Gas to Wire (GTW) technologies

Path Ahead
There is an urgent need to move positively towards energy security with optimised cost, in order to:

• Enhance Recovery
• Ensure Cost Effective Drilling
• Develop modular technology solutions
• Reduce CO2 Emissions
• Develop greener alternative products to replace existing hazardous chemicals
• Develop a holistic eco-system approach towards environmental risk assessment, monitoring, control and mitigation
• Develop methodologies to avoid accidental discharge and ensure strictest compliance to HSSE guidelines.

India's hydrocarbon sector is progressing steadily and it is crucial that we all contribute in a constructive manner towards a greener environment to achieve energy security.