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The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has said that oil and gas exploration and production (E&O) at domestic small fields will be as per established practices.
The statement is meant to put to rest all controversies arising out of the two recently awarded contract areas: Karaikal in Puducherry (10.4 sq km) and Neduvasal in Tamil Nadu (10 sq km) These were awarded under the Discovered Small Field bidding round.
In the past weeks, concerns have been raised over the impact of proposed E&P activities in these areas on agriculture and soil conditions. There have been protests over feared contamination of ground water and effects of methane generation.
A Ministry statement said the concerns are misplaced, as all E&P operations require clearances from the Environment Ministry, wherein public hearing is an integral part of obtaining clearances. The statement also said that the process of drilling and production requires very limited surface land area (generally 120 x 120 sq m), which will not affect agriculture or the soil of the entire lease area.
Additionally, operators are required to follow strict environmental norms for the use of operational land. There are three operational exploration blocks (approximately 1,461 sq km) under the production sharing contract system in Tamil Nadu, where hydrocarbon exploration is going on.
Under the nomination regime, 31 mining leases (approximately 3,500 sq km) have been granted in the State, from where 600 tonnes of oil and 30 lakh cu m of natural gas a day are produced. Till date, more than 700 wells have been drilled for extraction of hydrocarbons in Tamil Nadu.
These active operations are not hampering agriculture in nearby areas and do not pose any known environmental impact or health hazards on living beings of the operational area, the Ministry statement added.
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