Maor nations are looking to the oceans for mineral and fuel reserves as reserves on land deplete fast. The recent discovery by ONGC of a large reserve of gas hydrates -a potential gamechanger in fossil fuels -off Andhra Pradesh has shown that the Indian exclusive economic zone may well be able to secure the nation’s energy and other needs, but the technology for commercially exploiting these reserves is still several nautical miles away.
In a chat with Meera Vankipuram, Satheesh C Shenoi, director of the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), Hyderabad, and also director (additional charge), National Institute of Ocean Technolog y (NIOT), Chennai, explains that the process of analysing data on mineral deposits in the Indian ocean has begun.
Does India have the technology and industrial base to extract and use reserves like the gas hydrates?
Right now, we don’t have the technology to produce gas from hydrates.This technology is still being developed. Countries like Japan and India are in the process of developing the technology, such as a deep sea bore.The methane is in solidified form, and the technology to bring it to surface is still a decade or more away.
What about the mineral reserves on the Indian Ocean seabed?
There are minerals such as magnesium, zinc, copper, sulphides and cobalt in these reserves. While it is not economically viable in the next two decades to extract these minerals, as underground reserves get depleted, the ocean reserves will become very valuable in the future.
Has NIOT or other agencies mapped the exclusive economic zone of India? What are its features? What does it contain?
NIOT has carried out shallow wa ter survey of the east coast of India [between 10 m to 500 m water depth].Survey of other portions were carried out by National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR) and National Institute of Oceanography (NIO).
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