ONGC drilling starts amid protests

India protests: ONGC faces opposition

India’s state-owned Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) has started drilling in Tamil Nadu, amid strong resistance and protests by locals.

Exploration drilling in Thirunagari village in Nagapattinam district started amid tight police security, India’s leading news daily, The Hindu reported.

Local residents in some regions of Tamil Nadu, including Nagapattinam, have been protesting exploration activities, as they believe it could lead to ground water contamination and further increase the salinity of water.

Some local residents in Thirunagari had confused ONGC’s oil & gas exploration drive with a coal bed methane (CBM) exploration exercise in the past by UK-listed Great Eastern Energy, which has now been put on hold.

“There was a similar exploration a few years ago, and 16 pumpsets in the area started pumping out saline water.

"Most agricultural lands had been turned into shrimp farms, and now this would further affect farm lands,” one local resident was quoted saying by The Hindu.

While exploration in the region has started, residents in the village are still not convinced by drilling activities in the region.

Great Eastern is still waiting for approvals from the state government before moving ahead on exploration at its Mannargudi CBM block in Tamil Nadu, which faces a similar resistance from locals.

One industry source indicated that the southern state of Tamil Nadu is turning out to be a nightmare for oil and gas companies, owing to local protests and misconceptions about exploration.

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