New Delhi: In a bid to explore shale gas, the government will soon formulate a policy to offer areas for the gas exploration in near future and add resources in energy base, the Directorate General of India SK Srivastava said on Tuesday.

"As per the available data and studies undertaken, India has huge shale gas potential. Six basins, namely Cambay, Assam-Arakan, Gondawana, KG onshore, Cauvery onshore and Indo Gangatic basins, have been identified," he said while addressing the 14th Energy Summit organised by Assocham.

The offering of shale gas areas would, however, be "subject to certain legislation changes," he added.

India has so far only explored and produced conventional oil and gas as well as unconventional sources like coal bed methane (CBM).

Shale gas -- gas trapped in sedimentary rocks below the earth's surface -- is the new focus area in the US, Canada and China as an alternative to conventional oil and gas for meeting growing energy needs.

These unconventional deposits have raised estimates for US gas reserves from 30 years to 100 years at current usage rates. Shale gas deposits were not considered worth tapping before Houston billionaire George P Mitchell pioneered new extraction techniques in the 1990s.

India aims to put in place a policy framework for exploitation of shale gas in a year's time.

Several basins in India are known to hold shale gas resources. Primarily, the focus is on three basins – Cambay (in Gujarat), Assam-Arakan (in the North-East) and Gondwana
(in central India).

India has signed a cooperation agreement with the US Geological Survey for knowledge-sharing in the area of shale gas.

"This (shale gas) will add up additional resources in our hydrocarbon resource base," Srivastava said. "The government is formulating a policy for offering the areas for shale gas
exploration in the near future," he added.

On CBM, he said so far 33 blocks have been given out to companies for extracting gas from below coal seams. "CBM reserves to the tune of about 9 trillion cubic feet have been established in these blocks, having the potential to produce more than 5 million standard cubic metres per day (mmscmd)."

Agencies