Fracking Pros and Cons in Part 2
This is the third and concluding part of this series on the Neduvasal Protests
No Onus on ONGC?
The ONGC (state owned Oil and Natural Gas Commission) had sometime back identified certain areas across the country and Tamil Nadu. These areas /pockets could be tapped for underground hydrocarbon assets (oil or gas). But some of these places continue being underdeveloped (from extraction point of view). Reasons could be varied, one of them being lack of sufficient expected volumes, affecting the cost benefit ratio for ONGC to get involved directly.
The Cabinet therefore approved a policy for improving the country’s ability to exploit these areas. As per the policy some of these areas/wells would be alloted to contractors for exploration and extraction.
The Contractor’s Credentials to Prevent Damages. Also the Liability to those affected in case of damages
We are not sure if either the policy or the appointment process actually validates the contractor’s background or bonafide. The contractor’s credentials with respect to experience or knowledge in this industry is important. Also critical, as one of the elements of this extraction process is a controversial technology, called hydraulic fracturing or fracking.
This is a nascent initiative in the country and the industry is fairly young. The technology is not completely without danger but there could a fair amount of tentativeness in ensuring ‘safeguards’. Therefore it is important that while commercial terms are attractive to elicit interest, the contractors also carry liability. This will help ensure they have safety (both physical and environmental) mechanisms in place. The latter is important to prevent entities with just commercial interests (without any social or environmental responsibility) from entering.
Liability of Vendors during the Indo-American nuclear deal
One of the critical points the Indian side tried pushing the American side on, was, on NOT limiting the liability of the Vendors. This had limited success, but the point is that this aspect is very important. We are not sure whether the contractor in the Neduvasal case has agreed to be subject to the liabilities that projects of this kind could be vulnerable to.
Gem of an Idea or a Novice gets into the act, None the wiser
The protesters have also alleged something of critical importance. Gem Laboratories which has won the contract for the Neduvasal area seems to be completely new to the Hrydrocarbon extraction business. If this is correct, then the locals have all reason to be paranoid.
Any surgical intervention by itself is traumatic for the relatives of the patient. Imagine a situation a few minutes before the operation. Some hospital guys reassures the relatives, asking them not to worry. “The main Cardiac Surgeon is not tired. He/She is absolutely fresh. Infact this is his or her first heart operation, not just of the day, but of the career itself.”
In Ending, The Questions That Remain Unanswered?
What stake does Gem Laboratories have in the community to work with the above concerns in mind. A Mercenary Gem’s sins of commission or omission could permanently impact this innocent community? There are existing lawsuits against fracking companies already in other places!!!
Is it not naive to assume that any Government (however benign or even well meaning) will be more bothered about possible negative outcomes than the local/resident communities? The very people who will be most impacted by the Government’s oversight, however innocent the cause (of the oversight) maybe!!!