India, US to sign shale gas deal during Obama visit

India, US to sign shale gas deal during Obama visit

“We hope to sign an MoU (memorandum of understanding) on technology transfer on shale gas (during the visit),” S. Sundareshan, petroleum secretary, told reporters here. Obama will be in India from Nov 6-8.

He said the agreement will cover technical assistance for exploration as well as the procedure for putting shale gas blocks for auction. The agreement is likely to be signed between directorate general of hydrocarbons and the United States Geological Survey.

The government has been looking at putting up shale gas blocks for auction by the second half of 2011. Indian oil companies have been showing interest in this unconventional new source for natural gas, with several states like Assam and Gujarat identified for having shale gas reserves.

India's state-run ONGC has already approved a pilot project for exploration of shale gas in the Damodar Basin. India's largest conglomerate, Reliance Industries, has been investing heavily in US shale gas fields. In April, Reliance paid $1.7 billion to get 40 percent stake in Marcellus Shale gas operations in eastern United States.

Besides, Reliance agreed to play $1.3 billion to Pioneer Natural Resources to acquire 45 percent stake Eagle Ford Shale acreage.