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Natural Gas, First Strategic Natural Gas Reserves in India

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First Strategic Natural Gas Reserves

  • Context (TH): GAIL is looking at building India’s first strategic natural gas reserves by using old, depleted hydrocarbon wells.
  • India has 5 million tonnes of strategic petroleum reserves but no storage facilities for natural gas.

Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL)

  • GAIL is India’s largest Natural Gas Company, founded in 1984.
  • It is one of the seven Maharatna Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) under GoI.
  • It is under the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.

Natural Gas

  • Natural gas is a fossil fuel that primarily consists of methane.
  • Natural gas reserves are deep inside the earth near other solid and liquid hydrocarbon beds like coal and crude oil.
  • It is not used in its pure form; it is processed and converted into cleaner fuel for consumption.
  • By-products extracted: Propane, ethane, butane, carbon dioxide, nitrogen etc.
  • It also contains nonhydrocarbon gases, such as carbon dioxide and water vapour.

Types of Natural Gas

  • Wet gas or Associated gas: Natural gas found in association with crude oil.
  • Dry gas or Non-associated gas: When reservoirs contain only gas and no oil.
  • Coalbed methane: Natural gas found in coal deposits.
  • Sour gas: Natural gases that contain hydrogen sulfide or other organic sulfur compounds.
  • Sweet gas: Coalbed methane is called ‘sweet gas’ because it lacks hydrogen sulfide.
  • Shale gas or Tight gas: Natural gas that occurs in the pores of shale, sandstone, and other sedimentary rocks.

natural gas

Benefits of Natural Gas as Fuel

  • Clean burning: Natural gas burns cleaner than other fossil fuels, emitting fewer air pollutants and greenhouse gases.
  • Efficient: It has a high energy conversion efficiency, minimising waste and maximising utilisation.
  • Versatile: It can be used for various purposes like cooking, generating electricity, and powering industrial processes.
  • Flexible: Liquified and compressed natural can be easily transported and stored.

Disadvantages of Natural Gas as Fuel

  • Contributes to greenhouse gas emissions despite cleaner burning.
  • Methane, a potent greenhouse gas, can leak during natural gas extraction, processing, and transportation.
  • Natural gas extraction from shale and tight formations often relies on fracking, which can have environmental impacts like water contamination and seismic activity.
  • Non-renewable: Natural gas is a finite resource that cannot be replenished.
  • Transportation: Its transportation requires specialised infrastructure.

Natural Gas Storage

  • Underground storage: Utilising depleted gas fields, salt caverns, and other geological formations.
  • Above-ground storage: Utilising specially designed tanks for smaller-scale storage.

Benefits of Underground Storage of Natural Gas

  • Large capacity
  • Higher energy efficiency: Natural pressure and temperature in underground formations maintain stored gas in a condensed state, minimising energy losses during storage and retrieval.
  • Cost-effective
  • Safe and secure: It minimises the risk of leaks and ensures the safety of the surrounding environment.
  • Long-term storage
  • Grid reliability: Underground storage ensures a reliable natural gas supply during peak demand, maintaining grid stability and preventing power outages.
  • India aims to raise the share of natural gas in its energy mix to 15% by 2030 from the current 6.2%.
  • The nation consumes around 60 bcm of gas annually.

Four Basic Forms of Natural Gas

  1. Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG): Natural Gas liquefied at – 160°C. It facilitates transportation in large volumes in cryogenic tankers across seas/land.
  2. Regasified Liquefied Natural Gas (RLNG): LNG is re-gasified at import terminals before being transported to consumers through pipelines.
  3. Compressed Natural gas (CNG): Natural Gas compressed to a pressure of 200-250 kg/cm2 is used as a vehicular fuel. It decreases vehicular pollution.
  4. Piped Natural gas (PNG): Natural gas, distributed through a pipeline with safety valves to maintain pressure, ensures a safe, uninterrupted supply for domestic cooking and heating/cooling applications.
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