A top official of the Union Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas has stated that the ministry has finalised a shale oil and gas exploration policy, which will be tabled before the cabinet soon after the oil minister Marpadi Veerappa Moily approves it. However, in contrast to the Oil Ministry's statement, the Ministry of Environment and Forest said that exploitation of shale resources could lead to water crisis in India.
Union Petroleum Secretary Vivek Rae said that the proposed policy initially permits State-run energy firms Oil & Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) and Oil India (OIL) to explore shale resources in the onland blocks, which are already held by them. ONGC and OIL can explore shale oil and gas only in the blocks that are awarded to them without auction.
Under the new exploration licensing policy (Nelp), State explorers can't explore shale resources in blocks they won in nine auction rounds. Even pre-Nelp blocks such as Cairn-operated Rajasthan oilfields and coal bed methane (CBM) blocks are kept out of its preview, the official said.