While India imports whopping amounts of crude oil & natural gas to meet her domestic fuel demand by paying thousands of crores to West Asian Nations, Indonesia is benefitting its national economy by extracting the oil & natural gas reserves present in the Andaman & Nicobar region, entirely due to our national apathy & inaction. Does it sound a play of certain vested interests or geo-political actors?
Two US scientists after a long drawn study spanning almost 2 decades have come out with a research paper which observes that the Oil Wells of the Middle-East have been producing 10-20 million barrels of crude every day for the past 70-80 years. Despite this scale of production, each time the crude levels measured in these wells is found to be higher than the previous readings. This seems to be miracle of a never ending supply of crude despite perpetual exploitation. This fact was shared with us by independent scientist Suryaprakash Kapoor.
This miracle has been explained in this research paper which credits the subduction zone of Middle-East. Subduction is a geological process where one edge of a crustal plate is forced sideways and downward into the mantle below another plate.
When the crustal plate of Saudi Arabia enters below the crustal plate of Iran, into the 1200 degree celsius magma, the Calcium Carbonate deposits over this plate gets disintegrated and Carbon is produced. When the saline water of Gulf of Persia too enters through this fracture into the underlying magma, hydrogen is generated. This subterranean mix of carbon and hydrogen free radicals at magma temperatures give rise to hydrocarbons which in normal parlance is known as crude oil & natural gas.
Scientists are of the firm opinion that a similar subduction is happening in the Bay of Bengal whereby Indo-Australian plate is diving under Eurasian Crustal Plate and leading ride of crude oil & natural gas.
Indonesia is in the possession of the southern part of this subduction zone which enables it to produce over 1 million barrel of crude oil on a daily basis alongside making it the number one producer of natural gas in the Asia-Pacific region. Even Myanmar which lies to the north of this subduction zone produce 30k barrels of crude oil daily. It has even installed offshore oil & gas fields near the Andaman basin for large scale explorations and purification.
The question that arises is that why India splurges its foreign currency reserves while our very neighbours Indonesia and Myanmar are exploiting the very oil reserves right in our backyard in Bay of Bengal. Why we don’t excavate the oil reserves present in the deep water blocks of Andaman & Nicobar? Why we are squandering our forex reserves in boosting the economies of Middle East?
In 2014 alone a whopping sum of Rs 10 lakh crores (~USD 150 billion) got remitted to the Sheikhs of Middle East. Due to the fall in international oil prices this amount got marginally reduced to Rs 8.5 lakh crores (~USD 110 billion). This saving on account of global oil price reduction has been fuelling India’s growth story or else inflationary pressures would have ravaged the economic frontiers and a balance of payment crisis would have arisen forcing India to mortgage its gold reserves as was done in the Chandrashekhar regime.
The government has offered 5 deep water blocks in the Andaman Basin having a total potential of over 1296 billion barrels to the private companies. Nevertheless, the moot question arises as to why the national oil companies like ONGC, OIL, GAIL, GSPC etc don’t take the lead in exploiting the 16 deep water blocks allocated to them?
It would be interesting to note that this entire zone rich in oil & natural gas is spread across an area of 83,419 square km. 22 deep water bores were explored and were found to be rich in oil & natural gas. The 5 deep water blocks for which private companies were invited to exploit the reserves commercially have not been touched upon in the last 2 years. If private companies haven’t shown the inclination what are our national oil companies waiting for?
Is it just because that the officers and ministers concerned are under pressure & influence from the sheikhs of middle-east? The response of Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on August 3rd, 2016 in Rajya Sabha was entirely unsatisfactory, when a question (No. 1944) to this effect was raised by the National Spokesperson of Trinamool Congress Sri Sukhendu Shekhar Roy in the bygone Monsoon Session of the Parliament. The response was nothing more than a royal cover up which certainly presents a substantial case of doubt. The Prime Minister should thereby make a direct intervention in this multi-billion deal concerning national interest. A handful of people should not be extended the privilege of presenting almost a quarter of nation’s GDP on a platter to the Sheikhs of Middle East by retorting to dilly dallying on this count of extracting the oil wealth present in the Andaman basin.
2 years back Narendra Bhai Modi had openly declared that he shall extract oil from the Andaman basin for India’s energy security. What all has been done in this regard need to be brought out in the open. A White Paper to this effect would surely restore the confidence of the nation.