Centre exempts extended reach drilling from forest clearance

The Centre has accepted the Directorate Common of Hydrocarbon (DGH)’s report recommending that prolonged attain drilling (ERD), a know-how for drilling longer horizontal wells at a excessive inclination angle to succeed in underground oil and pure gasoline deposits as a substitute of vertical wells, in forest areas be exempted from prior forest clearance.

For representational purposes only. (HT File Photo) For representational functions solely. (HT File Picture)

The nod got here a 12 months after the Union setting ministry granted a conditional in-principal approval to the DGH proposal. The ministry had then ordered a examine on the affect of the know-how.

In its report submitted on March 9 final 12 months, which was shared with the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) for an affect evaluation on wildlife, DGH mentioned there might be “oblique” impacts of such drilling similar to forest fires ensuing from oil leakages; soil floor contamination and many others.

The report additional mentioned that no direct affect of the know-how was noticed on fauna.

Whereas WII cautioned in regards to the doubtless affect on fragile ecosystems, it additionally offered suggestions for oil and gasoline extraction in wildlife wealthy areas at a Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) assembly on August 1, 2022.

The FAC once more thought of the matter in its July 17, 2023 assembly the place each experiences of the Directorate Common of Hydrocarbon and the overall SOP prompt by the WII have been mentioned.

“Based mostly on the advice of the Advisory Committee and acceptance of the identical by the competent authority of the MoEFCC, the Central Authorities, hereby, settle for the report submitted by the Directorate Common of Hydrocarbon recommending to exempt the Prolonged Attain Drilling Know-how from the purview of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 to undertake drilling within the forest areas, positioned outdoors the Protected Areas and Eco-sensitive Zones, topic to success of the next situations,” a letter dated September 12 despatched from MoEFCC to all state governments states.

Amongst situations for the overall approval, the MoEFCC mentioned that the station for ERD be arrange outdoors the forest space at a minimal distance of 500 meters, the State Authorities shall make sure that the suggestions made by WII are complied with, and that the exemption thought of for the ERD know-how is not going to be relevant if the drilling space falls contained in the Protected Areas notified beneath the Wild Life (Safety) Act, 1972 and Eco-Delicate zone of Protected Areas.

HT had reported on August 22 final 12 months that WII had cautioned in regards to the affect of ERD on wildlife. It mentioned that drilling websites near vital wildlife habitats ought to keep away from operations throughout peak exercise hours, similar to early morning and late night. It additionally made some basic suggestions to be thought of whereas contemplating ERD close to wildlife delicate areas which should be adopted by consumer companies in line with the September 12 letter of MoEFCC, seen by HT.

The WII has now been requested to hold out an in depth examine on animal distribution, exercise, behaviour, and response to anthropogenic disturbance following which the institute will submit detailed and site-specific suggestions to mitigate the opposed impact of drilling and exploration on wildlife species.

In response to India’s Hydrocarbon Outlook printed by DGH, it has been pursuing a definite and separate class for the oil and gasoline sector for environmental clearance. MoEFCC has acceded to DGH’s request by making a separate head as “Mining of Mineral Oil” to cater to the hydrocarbon initiatives on PARIVESH net portal, it states.

HT reached out to DGH for a remark however didn’t get one instantly.