Oil and gas scenario in Manipur

Kh Dilip Singh
Contd from previous issue
The New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) became effective in April 1999 and since then licenses for exploration of oil and gas are being awarded only through a competitive bidding system and National Oil Companies are required to compete on an equal footing with Indian and foreign companies to secure Petroleum Exploration Licences.
NELP was subsequently modified in March 2016 by implementing Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP). This policy is based on the new model of Revenue Sharing Contract (RSC) which has replaced the earlier model of Production Sharing Contract (PSC) under NELP. Under HELP, Open Acreage Licensing (OAL) mechanism has been launched which allows the investors to carve out blocks of their choice by assessing exploration and production (E&P) data available at National Data Repository (NDR) maintained by DGH and by submitting a suo moto Expression of Interest (EoI). EOI can be submitted throughout the year without waiting for a formal bid round from the Government for blocks of their choice for contracting based on the data available in NDR or data previously procured from the Government of India. These blocks would be subsequently offered through biannual formal bidding process. A single license will cover exploration and production of all types of hydrocarbon.
(i) Manipur belongs to a highly tectonically active zone and lie along a plate margin where two plates collide continuously. This causes earthquakes. Low intensity earth- quakes (which human find it difficult to perceive), apart from intensity of higher nature, occur regularly. In the process, cracks are developed in the earth’s crust and available gas, if at all it is, might be released continuously. This will result in depletion of gas reserve. Further, a time may come when there will be no gas left.
(ii) Gas bearing belt of Manipur may be a continuity of the belt in Assam, Mizoram and Nagaland; being in the same Assam-Arakan Fold Belt. As such, when exploitation of oil and gas takes place in any part of the belt in other State(s), there will be a free flow of gas from portions of Manipur thus leading to depletion of gas in the State’s region.    
In view of the above, claims by some sections of people for preserving our natural resources for future generation (TUNG-GI MEEHOUROL-GI) may not be in the best interest of the State. There might be a time when there would be no gas reserve left at the time when we try to exploit them. Further, the world is looking for an alternative to fossil fuel in view of environmental considerations and there may be a time when use of fossil fuel may be banned.
Globally, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has been pushing its member countries for transitioning into a greener energy source. The Conference of Parties-27 (COP-27), 2022 Summit held at Sharm El–Sheikh, Egypt witnessed multiple countries demanding phase-out of all fossil fuels. India presented its climate commitment at COP-26 Summit at Glasgow in 2021 as Panchamitra - (1) achieve Net Zero Emission by 2070, (2) increase Non-Fossil Fuel Energy Capacity to 500 GW by 2030, (3) meet 50% of its energy requirement from Renewable Energy by 2030, (4) reduce the Total Projected Carbon Emissions by 1 billion tones from now till 2030, and (5) reduce Carbon Intensity of its Economy by less than 45% by 2030.  
The oil and gas industry has the potential to bring economic prosperity to the State revitalising employment sector, bringing in new sources of Government revenue and strengthening energy security. It will be in the best interest if a processing plant is also set up.  Therefore, the State Government should take up immediate actions for exploitation of oil and gas in Manipur keeping in mind the interest of the local people and environmental considerations. The writer is  Retd. Joint Director of Trade, Commerce & Industries, Govt of Manipur