There is a sudden rush of geologists, both from India and overseas, to study the sedimentary rock formations in the arid region of Kutch for oil and gas exploration.
So even as oil and gas companies are yet to find commercial success here, these onshore rock reservoirs are a case study for carrying out drilling and other exploration activities in sea or offshore fields as they are called.
The reason: hydrocarbon rocks found on the surface in Kutch have a striking similarity with those found under the seas in areas that are identified for hydrocarbon exploration. It is difficult to dig data from hydrocarbon blocks lying beneath the sea which makes Kutch a hot destination for oil and gas explorers to find success formulas for offshore studies.
A team of sixteen scientists from British Gas plc and Reliance Industries Ltd recently visited the Kutch University, which has been studying these rocks. Next on the list are a team of scientists from Australia and Europe, said an official of Kutch University.
Oil and Natural Gas Corp Ltd (ONGC) has already begun work to produce gas from the new sedimentary basin in Kutch offshore in the next few years. While the offshore basin is estimated to hold 1 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves that could put Kutch on India’s oil and gas map, the company is also studying the hydrocarbon deposits on rocks in inland areas.
“The rocks on the surface are like open books for the petroleum geologists. They studied the oil extracts derived from sea rocks and found them akin to Kutch rocks. Similar was the case with fossils found inside the rocks,” said M G Thakkar, Head of Earth and Environment Science department of Kutch University.
“This is important because the decomposed body of micro-organisms help in formation of oil,” he adds. The department is working with companies including RIL, BP, ONGC and other geologists who are studying these rocks, according to Thakkar.
The geologists can also estimate the volume of oil reserve in offshore regions by studying the same kind of rocks that are found on the surface here.