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Neduvassal is a small oil and gas field discovered by ONGC in the state of Tamil Nadu (2008). The field had been given for development under the new regulations HELP-2016.
There is a severe social protest on the safety and damaging impact from the development. Numerous 'conspiracy' theories, 'Mistrust of Science' and 'Exaggerated impact fears' dominate media during Feb-Mar 2017.
This is additional information for use carefully and under the "DISCLAIMER"
Additional information to the
The Tamil TV program in Thanti TV can be seen at
• This is inspired by a very good interview in the
• The various questions asked are expanded in slides
• The subject is highly specialized and has numerous
‘conditional’ variations to the situation. Therefore, the
answered Q&A in this presentation are – ‘only best
generalized technical judgement’.
• The context and applicability to Neduvssal is kept in
mind – however, not specifically tailored to be
• Abbreviations used:
• HC - Hydrocarbon
• Petroleum Exploration & Production - E&P
1. What is the position of India’s
• Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) is regulator
– like SEBI, RBI etc.
• ONGC, OIL, CAIRN, RIL etc. are HC operating companies
– like BSE, NSE, SBI, PNB, HDFC, ICICI etc
• Dedicated specialized institutes of learning (Teaching
focus) are formed – 1) UPES – Dehradun (private
university), 2) RGIPT Rai Bareilly, 3) PDPU Gandhinagar
and 4) IIPE Visakhapatnam.
• Other than these, IIT Bombay, IIT Dhanbad (earlier
called ISM Dhanbad) and IIT Madras has courses on
Petroleum Exploration and Production (E&P)
• India lacks established and functioning ‘independent’
institutes in E&P. All the above are very basic institutes.
2. Occurrence of HC in India and
• World’s largest HC fields are in Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Middle-East, Russia, Kazhagastan, USA, Europe-North Sea,
Brunei, Indonesia have major deposits
• India’s first HC was made in Digboi, Assam (world’s 2nd
discovery in 1866). Post independence Gujarat became a big
HC area (Cambay basin). In 1974 Bombay Offshore basin
was discovered (Bombay High field). Cauvery, Krishna-
Godavari (AP coast), Mahanadi, and Jaisalmer (Rajasthan)
are other major HC areas currently producing. All the states
of North-East have HC.
• Cauvery is well established HC area since 1980s. Narimanam
field is among the first discoveries (1985) and produced
• Cauvery is ranked 244th in world ranking and far behind all
other areas in India (listed above).
3. Is there Ban on HC production?
• IMPORTANT – There are 2 types of HC production.
1. Conventional HC production as expected in
Neduvasal – NO major ban anywhere
2. Unconventional HC production as being done in
Shadol-MP – YES there are cases
There had been litigations on land access, local issues
against Conventional. Most resolved by proper
Unconventional HC production is through techniques like
‘fracking’. There are many protests and bans. E.g. Locals
in Australia have protested and stopped development
CBM (Coal-Bed Methane technology). France and parts
of Europe have banned Shale-Gas development.
4. HC E&P experience in Tamil
• Early discovery since 1980s.
• Production done since 1989.
• No major accidents
• Smaller spills and expulsions known.
• Neduvassal locals have been complaing of such at
Neduvassal-2 well site.
• ONGC is major operator
• Few Offshore and Onshore fields/blocks are operated
by HEOC and other private operators
• Largely SAFE experience.
• Compare with major ‘BLOW OUTs’ and fire in Krishna-
5. Ground Water, Its use and
• Conventional HC field (Neduvassal) is deeper than 1km from surface
• Typical Ground water is much shallow - < ¼ km deep
• HC occurs ONLY when there is a TIGHT SEAL from the field and NO COMMUNICATION with
• Water is used in engineering and building well site and project facilities (like any engineering)
• Water is pumped into well(s) to support pressure in HC fields – that water is normally NEVER
allowed from ground water. In the Neduvassal case, it must come from DEEPER acquifer (> ½ or
• THIS IS AN AREA OF REGULATION AND CONCERN
• Water disposal have strict state and central rules. The excess produced water – MUST BE
TREATED, TESTED for SAFETY and DISPOSED without any clear risk.
• This is an area of weak regulation in India. Locals do suffer from industrial effluents in many parts
• LOSS of water to agriculture or soil / river contamination from produced water NEEDS to be
• Operating company can keep this information OPEN and checked regularly.
• This is how world over the issue is managed.
6. Onshore –vs- Offshore
• HC E&P is a business. It has to be profitable. Cost of
production + Taxes + Levies MUST BE LESS than
Revenue from sale.
• E&P is a very expensive and high-tech business.
• Technology for OFFSHORE field development is typically
10-30 times more than ONSHORE field.
• India’s offshore ‘economic’ viable fields are very few
and NONE in Cauvery basin area now. (HEOC operates
one offshore field, RIL, ONGC discovered but they are
• There are few manageable options in ONSHORE
• Neduvassal & Karaikkal are these.
7. Land use and Damage
• Conventional fields (Neduvassal ~< 10km2) are
produced through 25 wells. Add the pipe-lines,
support systems, processing plants and sale-point.
• Each of these facilities will require land 120x120 m or
more – spread over the 10km2 area.
• Access roads, office area, workshops etc will be there
• Land damage (in absence of spill) can be quickly
• In event of spill, there shall be penalty and
compensation to aggrieved party (should be rare)
• LAND damage and use is a REGULATORY issue.
• GOOD – FAIR regulator == NO ISSUES of long range pain
8. Effluents from HC fields
• Most countries (not India) has strict effluent
measurement and control rules
• H2S is very poisonous gas that can come out.
DEADLY == BHOPAL gas disaster.
• Neduvassal gas composition not known to assess risk
• Other gasses CO, CO2, N2 are sometimes left on
• THIS NEEDS MONITORING and REGULATION
• Gas/ Oil pipelines (normally buried below root level
in grounds) can
• Leak causing accidents (Standard industrial risk)
9. Methane, Biogas, HC
• VERY valuable possibility in the interview:
1. If Milk can be organized and procured throughout the state <> Surely, bio-
waste can be segregated and made into energy
2. Severe draught – YET, how much ‘rain water harvesting’, ‘cleaning water
bodies’, ‘preventing sand mining harming water bodies’ --- is achieved?
• India is socially very negligent and irresponsible society
• Methane as coming out of bio-waste is ‘dispersed’ and causes severe
damage. Methane from HC fields is ‘concentrated’ and used as CLEAN
• HC is still the MOST VIABLE and POWERFUL fuel option to this world.
INDIA critically needs HC.
• Nuclear + HC are only practical hope to meet India’s energy demand.
• If we don’t : Our independence will be bartered to energy supplying countries
in Middle-East/ Russia!
• We will remain at the bottom of ‘per-capita energy consumption’ in the world
10. சாதகம் : பாதகம்
Risk : Rewards from HC
Rewards = சாதகம்
1. India & Tamil Nadu
2. There will be economic
& skill development
3. Revenue to locals +
State + Centre
4. Experience to do more
HC projects without
Risk = பாதகம்
1. GEM is unknown and no expertise
2. The license doesn’t say NO to
3. Spill from Neduvassal-2 as
reported (not compensated) can
4. Weak monitoring and corrupt
5. Locals left to face consequence
6. Industry pollute our air and
destroy our water - common man
Regulation is the Key to
Quantify, Assess & Correct
the damage from Risk.
Unfortunately, India is very weak in regulation. This needs
significant competency and a large amount of ‘integrity’. Both
are easily sacrificed by the system in the country. In rare cases
when regulation works, the law is so slow to bring accountability
and redress. Union Carbide after Bhopal disaster is still enjoying
the weakness of law. 32 years on, the victims are awaiting case