Krishna-Godavari (KG) Basin: An Excellent Source Of Methane Hydrate

( 14 September, 2020, Ministry of Science & Technology, www.pib.gov.in )


The Krishna-Godavari (KG) basin holds a massive reserve of methane hydrate and a rich source of cleaner natural gas, claims a study by the Pune-based Agharkar Research Institute (ARI) of the Science & Technology Ministry.

What are Methane Hydrates?

  • Methane hydrate also called ‘Fire Ice’ is a crystalline solid that consists of a methane molecule surrounded by a cage of interlocking water molecules. Methane hydrate is an "ice" that only occurs naturally in subsurface deposits where temperature and pressure conditions are favourable for its formation.

How Methane Hydratesareformed?

  • Methane hydrate is formed when hydrogen-bonded water and methane gas come into contact at high pressures and low temperatures in oceans.

Where Methane Hydrates are found?

  • They are found primarily on the edge of continental shelves where the seabed drops sharply away into the deep ocean floor.

Other areas where Methane Hydrate were found in India

  • They are also found near the coast of Andaman and Mahanadi.

KG Basin has Maximum Diversity

  • This study using molecular and culturing techniques revealed maximum methanogenic diversity in the KG basin, which is one of the prominent reasons to confirm it to be the extreme source of biogenic methane in comparison to the Andaman and Mahanadi basins.

What are Methanogens?

  • Methanogens are microorganisms that produce methane as a metabolic byproduct in hypoxic conditions.

Despite huge potential, why extraction is a challenge?

  • Quite apart from reaching them at the bottom of deep ocean shelves, not to mention operating at low temperatures and extremely high pressure, there is the potentially serious issue of destabilising the seabed, which can lead to submarine landslides.
  • A greater potential threat is methane escape. Extracting the gas from a localised area of hydrates does not present too many difficulties, but preventing the breakdown of hydrates and subsequent release of methane in surrounding structures is more difficult.
  • And escaping methane has serious consequences for global warming - recent studies suggest the gas is 30 times more damaging than CO2.
  • These technical challenges are the reason why, as yet, there is no commercial-scale production of methane hydrate anywhere in the world. But a number of countries are getting close.

Source : Civil Services Chronicle Online, September, 2020