India to Offer First Shale Gas Blocks by 2014, Official Says

India plans to offer its first shale gas blocks to developers by 2014 and seeks to raise natural-gas production from offshore fields, an official said.

“Shale gas resources assessment is going on now,” Narasimha Raju, joint secretary of India’s ministry of petroleum and natural gas, said today in an interview in Doha, Qatar. The country needs to devise a regulatory framework for developing the shale blocks, which may take one or two years, he said.

Shale development, where rock formations are horizontally drilled and broken apart using water, sand and chemicals under high pressure to release trapped gas, has driven a surge in U.S. gas output that made the country the world’s largest producer and a net exporter in 2009. India may have 63 trillion cubic feet of recoverable shale resources, enough to meet its consumption for 33 years, the IEA said in April.

The country may also increase crude oil and gas output from deepwater fields, where BP Plc and India’s Reliance Industries Ltd. are doing small-scale recovery projects, Raju said.

India currently produces 40 to 42 million standard cubic meters of natural gas and about 20,000 barrels a day of oil from its deep sea deposits, he said.

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