Huge Gas, Oil reserves in state: Study by Italian firm

A comprehensive scientific paper has revealed a strong possibility of finding gas and petroleum in Jammu and Kashmir and has sought access to oil companies and researchers to carry out an exploration in the state.
A decade-long study commissioned by Ente Nazionale Idrocarburi (National Hydrocarbons Authority), an Italian oil giant, was completed recently to expand the understanding of hydrocarbon occurrences in the northwestern Himalayas of India and Pakistan.

The published study, ‘Petroleum systems and hydrocarbon potential of the North-West Himalayas of India and Pakistan’, involved collaboration of researchers from India, Pakistan, Italy and England.

The University of Jammu, Maghreb Petroleum Research Group, University College London and Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) Videsh are also a part of the study.

As per the paper, the origin and evolution of Himalayas formed and shaped the sedimentary basins (depressions acting as receptacles) where the rocks with oil and gas forms were deposited. These rocks, ranging in age from a billion to a million years, are present in the northwestern Himalayas of India and Pakistan.

“So far, no comparable research paper exists in the scientific world on the subject. Although some wells were dug by the ONGC in the past, commercial discoveries have remained largely elusive. The exploration is hampered by structural complexity, difficult terrain, drilling complications and poor data quality,” said Naveen Hakhoo of the Institute of Energy Research and Training, University of Jammu. He was a part of the research team.

J&K is part of a Mesozoic-era ocean, a Tethys basin, which existed between Gondawana and Laurasia continents some 300 million years ago.

The interest of scientists towards finding oil in J&K was drawn after a 2008 conference, ‘Hunting for old oil and gases in India, Pakistan and the Middle East’. It was held in the university and was attended by leading scientists across the globe.

“There is a strong possibility of finding oil and gas in J&K. Our studies have suggested this but there is a need for a further comprehensive research to unveil what is hidden below the surface. It needs a massive effort involving foreign and Indian research institutes,” said Prof GM Bhat, eminent geologist in J&K, who was also involved in the research.

Rock types in the state are sedimentary in nature and considered to be the potential source of hydrocarbons formed due to the decomposition of organic matter in millions of years.