[Environment] Shale Gas: Advantages and limitations as an Energy source

Shale Gas Deposit-Diagram

[Environment] Shale Gas: Advantages and limitations as an Energy source

  1. What is Shale Gas?
  2. What’re its Advantages?
  3. What’re its limitations?

What is Shale Gas?

  • Shale gas is natural gas formed from being trapped within shale formations.
  • Shale gas—an “unconventional” source of methane, like coal-bed gas (in coal seams) and tight gas (trapped in rock formations)
  • It is Colourless, odourless, lighter than air.
  • In Europe shale gas is not used because of environmental rules and limited property rights.
  • But In America, Shale Gas use already began. In future, it might be used for fullfilling the energy requirements of US manufacturing industry.

Shale Gas Deposit-Diagram

What’re the Advantages of Shale Gas?

  • A flexible fuel, can heat homes, run industrial boilers
  • Shale gas also provides feedstock for the petrochemicals industry, which is turned into plastics, fertiliser and other useful stuff.
  • Experimental Usage as fuel for trucks, lorries and buses.
  • Shale-gas is cheaper than gas, releases 50% less CO2, hence better source for generating electricity.
  • Shale gas power stations are safer than nuclear reactors and cheaper than renewables sources such as solar electricity cell.

What’re its limitations/drawbacks?

  • Storage & Transportation = difficult + expensive..
  • Therefore, Shale gas not traded in international-commodity market unlike coal or crude oil. Not even 33% of the shale gas is traded in interntional market
  • It has no global price comparision platform.
  • Gas prices in different parts of the world are set by quite different mechanisms, they vary wildly across the world.
  • To construct Gas pipelines, you’ve to spend millions of $$ per km.
  • alternatively, we can transport shale gas in liquid form, like LNG. But such LNG-terminal will also require huge investments
  • GK: Gazprom is Russia’s huge state-run gas producer and supplier of 25% of Europe’s gas.

Shale Gas in India?

  • Potential Sites: Cambay, Gondwana, Krishna-Godawari onland, and Cauvery.
  • Public sector companies and corporations like ONGC, OIL and GAIL are exploring these sites.
  • Subject matter falls under Director General of Hydrocarbans (DGH)
  • MoU have been signed between USA, and India for sharing technical knowledge in shale-gas exploration. This is one area where USA is far ahead of us, we’ve much to learn from them.

Why shale gas is not a priority in India?

  • Shale gas is Difficult to store and transport.
  • Shale gas requires hydraulic fracking method for extraction. Therefore creates following problems
Hydraulic Fracking Needs India’s problem
Large Area
  • land acquisition problems, especially where Union and State governments are ruled by different political parties.
  • environment clearance
Large Water Supply
  • We’ve shortage of water even for drinking and irrigation, so diverting water for shale-gas exploration, will prove to be tough, especially given the judicial activism and PILs in India.
Guar Gum (Fluid Viscosity Agent)
  • Guar gum is too costly. India is largest producer of Guar gum. But due to heavy imports from US shalegas companies, its prices have increased by ten times within a year.
  • Hence, there is shortage of Guar-gum, for domestic industries willing to explore shale gas ,but who cannot keep up with the prices offered by Americans.

Ref.:http://www.economist.com/node/21558432

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