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ONGC to drill for hot water in Cambay

According to reports, ONGC will soon drill in Cambay — for hot water. It wants not the water, but the heat. Use the heat to produce steam, make the steam to drive turbines — you have electricity.

Two factors connect the public sector oil major to geothermal energy. First, its expertise in drilling wells. Usually, geothermal power plants are located at places where the earth’s heat is available to be tapped at not-so-deep hot spots. However, India does not have such shallow hot spots — it has to seek heat at great depths. One company knows how to get there —ONGC. The company has drilled 10,000-odd wells in the country.

The second factor is ONGC’s avowed desire to secure 30 per cent of its revenues from non exploration and production activities by the year 2030. This has been well articulated in the company’s recently-prepared long term Perspective Plan.

In February this year, ONGC signed a collaboration agreement with a Belgian company called Talboom, which is a many business company that also specialises in geothermal energy.

According to the International Geothermal Association, the global geothermal capacity today is 10,716 MW. United States is the leader, with 3,093 MW of capacity.

In its march towards that goal, the public sector oil major has a bouquet of ventures—some on the ground, some in mind. Petrochemicals of course, is one and the company has two big-bucks projects coming up in Gujarat and Karnataka (through joint ventures). The other initiatives include conventional non-conventional energy sources such as wind and solar, as well as completely cutting edge technology initiatives.

These initiatives are being driven by the two-year-old ONGC Energy Centre. Dr Dilip Kale, who heads the Centre, told Business Line recently that apart from geothermal, ONGC is also into developing technologies for production of hydrogen through thermo-chemical means and coal gasification using bio-chemicals. ONGC Energy Centre has secured patents for these technologies and the game now is to scale up the pilots to commercial levels. Which is of course a long-term exercise.

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