Vijayawada: The Cairn Oil & Gas, a division of Vedanta Limited, is all set to begin oil and natural gas exploration in Krishna district. The Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) has already completed the ground work and identified the drilling area for the purpose. The ONGC had drilled three exploratory wells back in 1985 of which one was successful and extraction of oil and natural gas were not ruled out.
The Centre later introduced the Discovered Small Field (DSF) policy and handed over 35 wells spread across Movva, Gudur, Machilipatnam and Kaldindi mandals to Vedanta in 2018. The company is now estimating production of 30,000 barrels of oil and 30 million cubic feet of gas per day.
Pipelines have been laid jointly by Gail and MEIL and the work is awaiting environmental clearance. The Centre has posted the public hearing for environmental clearance on December 17 at Tarakaturu village in Gudur mandal where most wells will be set up for a major part of the exploration activity.
Vedanta proposed taking up well drilling with water base mud (WBM) initially and shift to synthetic oil base mud (SOBM) for the rest of the operation. The Centre wants Vedanta to commission the work by early 2021 and execute operation for the next ten years. The project is estimated to cost around Rs 650 crore in addition to which the company will have to spend another Rs 525 crore for drilling 35 wells, each at a cost of around Rs 15 crore.
Meanwhile, Human Rights Forum (HRF) activists have started a campaign in the villages against the exploration exercise and the proposed public hearing for environmental clearance. “The process of hydraulic fracturing or fracking to extract gas involves drilling huge amounts of water, chemicals and sand into earth which is deleterious to the environment. These extraction processes would kill the delicate ecological balance in this highly fertile region,” HRF convenor for AP and Telangana, VS Krishna told TOI.
“Toxic chemicals that are unleashed will contaminate aquifers which is why fracking is banned in many European countries in Europe and several states in the US. Scientific research has proven pollution of air, water and other community resources in the vicinity,” Krishna said. Besides HRF, activists from SC, ST and BC communities along with the Chinna Kulala Hakkula Vedika are also creating awareness among locals about the effects of the proposed exploration.