Environmental issues hit ONGC’s gas exploration in Tripura

Agartala : State-owned ONGC found huge gas reserves in the Trishna area of southern Tripura 14-years ago but couldn’t proceed as it is yet to get environmental clearance, an official said here Monday.

“We have found huge natural gas at Trishna in 2000. But we are yet to explore the gas in 14 years as we did not get the forest and environment clearance due to cumbersome procedures,” said Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) Tripura asset manager V.P. Mahawar.

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“It would take more 3-4 years to get the forest and environment clearance and the Supreme Court approval as the area falls under the Trishna wildlife sanctuary. As per law and the apex court direction, no mining work can be done in the wildlife sanctuary without proper sanction,” he told reporters.

He said the ONGC have to drill many wells in the Trishna areas (110 km south of Agartala) to unearth the natural gas to supply them to the existing and upcoming power projects in Tripura.

According to the official, the ONGC, which first found gas in Tripura in 1975, has so far invested Rs.3,400 crore in the northeastern state. It has found 11 gas fields (including Trishna field) in Tripura and currently exploring gas from six fields.

“At present, our capacity to generate gas is 3.95 million standard cubic meter per day (MSCMD) and it would increase to 6.35 MSCMD in 2-3 years,” he added.

The ONGC has commissioned its first mega commercial power project in southern Tripura by floating a company — ONGC Tripura Power Company (OTPC).

The Rs.10,000 crore 726 MW capacity combined cycle gas-based thermal power project (using both water and natural gas) at Palatana, 60 km from here, in southern Tripura is ONGC’s first commercial power project in India.

“The generation from the first unit (363.3 MW capacity) of the power plant began Dec 31 last year and the generation from the second unit (363.3 MW capacity) likely to start in September,” said Mahawar, who is also one of the group general managers of ONGC.

The ONGC, in association with Rajasthan-based Chambal Fertilisers and Chemicals Limited and the Tripura government, would also set up a Rs.5,000 crore fertilizer plant in northern Tripura.

“The process is on in full swing to set up the fertilizer project,” said Mahawar, who was accompanied by senior ONGC officials.

Besides, the ONGC would soon deploy a Chinese-made rig to intensify it gas exploration activities in Tripura.