India’s Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas (MPNG) on Tuesday told lawmakers in the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the country’s Parliament, it will announce a new regulatory framework for shale gas development by March 31.

Shri Jaipal Reddy, who heads the ministry, told the government’s press information bureau that comments from other ministries and departments still need to be incorporated into its plans for shale gas. “Therefore, the announcement [of the] shale gas policy will depend on completion of the consultation process with all the concerned authorities, including environmental safeguards required to be put in place under the regulatory regime for shale gas exploration and production,” he said.

The United States, through the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and India signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on shale gas development in November 2010, when President Obama visited the country (see Shale Daily, Jan. 12, 2011). The MOU calls for conducting an assessment of India’s shale resources, sharing best regulatory practices and promoting sustainable domestic and foreign investment in shale development.

The USGS conducted resource assessment testing in three of India’s basins — the Cambay, Cauvery and Krishna-Godavari (KG) — in January. Meanwhile India’s national oil and gas governmental office, the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH), has tasked a private company, Central Mine Planning & Design Institute Ltd. (CMPDI), with identifying and assessing shale prospects in the Damodar and Sohagpur basins.

Schlumberger Ltd. completed India’s first shale gas well in January 2011. At the time, a company official told business news media in India that the country’s shale deposits hold more than 600 Tcf. Meanwhile a study commissioned by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said India has 63 Tcf of technically recoverable shale gas resources, ranking it 15th in the world (see Shale Daily, April 7, 2011).

According to the EIA, India produced about 1.85 Tcf of natural gas during 2010, a 63% increase from 2008, earning the rank of 21st in the world in terms of production. But the country had to import 429 Bcf that year to meet demand of about 2.28 Tcf.