Nepal’s petroleum exploration potentials untapped

Somnath Lamichhane

Kathmandu, February 2:

Various studies have shown that there is a possibility of petroleum products being produced in Nepal, but instead of building upon the findings of research to carry out exploration, every government has resorted to increasing the price of oil arguing that it was a ‘compulsion’.

Nepal imports petroleum products worth billions of rupees every year but not much has been spent on exploring of petroleum products in the country. Efforts made so far have been limited just to studies and research.

In this connection, anyone who reaches the bank of river at the western part of Dailekh can see natural gas burning. Local people feel that it could be a big source of gas.

A study is going on in connection to oil and gas that seeps from deep faults in the area, though it is yet to reach any conclusion.

According to the study carried out by foreign consultation by the department of mines and geology, oil and gas seeps are indications of ‘mature rock’. It may be noted that presence of minerals like oil and gas is not possible without mature rocks.

Apart from the natural gas in Dailekh, the department has been carrying out studies in consultation with foreign experts in 10 selected sites across the country. Various studies being carried out in the last 25 years have shown that there is an abundant quantity of rocks and organic carbon to produce petroleum products.

The presence of petroleum products in Nepal was first shown by an aero-magnetic survey carried out in 1979-80 in an area of around 48,000sq km by Compagnie Generale de Geophysique (CCG) in Terai and Siwalik belt of Nepal. Following the indication by the study, renowned petroleum exploration companies from Britain, America, Canada and the Netherlands have shown interest in Nepal.

The possibilities of petroleum production in Nepal have further increased considering the production of natural gas and oil in Assam of India and the western region of Pakistan which have geographical similarities to Nepal, according to the department.

The geological and seismic study carried out at Biratnagr by a Dutch oil research and production company, Shell had also shown effective store of petroleum products and seal or cap rocks in the explored area. Almost 30 years have passed since the exploration and locals next to the exploration site, who had been thrilled over the possibility of production of petroleum products in their neighborhood, are very concerned and dejected over the lack of any further developments.

As Nepal is not capable of carrying out any exploration, it does not have any option rather than to invite foreign companies for it.

However, foreign companies will come here only if they are presented with good and attractive proposals, including bank guarantee.

The Petroleum Promotion and Exploration Project at the department has already sold seven data sales package (DSP) of international standard made by incorporating the facts of various researches carried out in the past.

Of the package sold in 10 blocks, Nepalgunj and Chitwan blocks have been given to the Texana Resources and Dhangadi, Karnali, Lumbini, Birgunj and Malangawa block to the Cairn Energy.