Gas hydrates are naturally occurring, solid compounds containing natural gas (mainly methane) and water. Scientific interest in gas hydrates is driven mainly by its potential future role as an energy resource, and by the role of methane as a strong greenhouse gas and contributor to global climate change. Further interest is linked to the geo-hazard aspect of gas hydrate occurrences (especially in the marine environment) related to seafloor subsidence, slumps and slides. Since the time the existence of gas hydrates was first suspected in the Blake Outer Ridge during the Deep Sea Drilling Project (DSDP) Leg11, interest in the study of marine gas hydrates has grown in several countries. Several attempts have been undertaken over the past three decades to estimate the global volume of methane within gas hydrate deposits, but assessments of this inventory vary by several orders of magnitude showing that large uncertainties in the parameters controlling gas hydrate stability and occurrence are still remaining.
India produces only one-third of the national oil requirement. Depletion of fossil fuels, increasing crude oil prices, growing demand of clean energy, and uncertain supply coupled with the geopolitical scenario necessitate a search for an alternate source of energy for sustainable development of an energy-starving.
Under the aegis of Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India, a comprehensive research-oriented gas hydrates program was launched during the 11th plan period emphasizing scientific and technology development with following major objectives:
NCAOR has been identified as the nodal agency responsible for implementation of the scientific aspects of the study while NIOT, Chennai has been entrusted with the technological aspects related to gas hydrate exploration.