[Answered] What are Natural gas hydrates? Discuss their importance and availability in India with special reference to recent discovery in Indian Ocean.

Gas hydrates are crystalline form of methane and water, and exist in shallow sediments of outer continental margins. They are envisaged as a viable major energy resource for future.

By nature, Gas hydrates are mostly methane (CH4). Methane gas hydrate is most stable at the seafloor at water depths which is below about 500 meters.

The amount of gas within the world’s gas hydrate accumulations is estimated to greatly exceed the volume of all known conventional gas resources.

Availability in India

  • Gas hydrate resources in India are estimated at 1,894 trillion cubic meters
  • Deposits occur in Western, Eastern and Andaman offshore areas
  • Two promising sites of 100 km x 100 km in the Krishna‐Godavari (KG) and the Mahanadi basins have been identified and surveyed.
  • Recently large reserves of highly enriched accumulations of natural gas hydrate an icy form of the fuel are discovered in the Bay of Bengal.

Importance

  • They occur in abundance in the outer continental margins and permafrost regions.
  • According to some surveys, gas hydrate deposits along ocean margins are estimated to exceed known petroleum reserves by about a factor of three.
  • Huge energy potential of gas hydrates can be used as a viable major energy resource of future.
  • If India produces only 10% from this gigantic treasure, it can meet India’s overwhelming energy requirement for about 100 years.
  • India will not have to depend on other countries for energy resources and would be able to save billions of hard earned rupees.
  • It will save much more revenue to invest on infrastructure or other programs for social benefit.
  • India’s popular initiatives like Make in India will be requiring cheaper and constant supply of electricity for industrial promotion which gas hydrate source may fulfill.
  • If technology for it’s safe exploitation is developed, It will facilitate environmental protection by reducing methane leakage/escape from continental shelf by extracting it beforehand.
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