- Recently, government-owned engineering consultancy firm Engineers India (EIL) is studying the prospects and feasibility of developing salt cavern-based strategic oil reserves in Rajasthan.
WHAT ARE STRATEGIC OIL RESERVES (SOR) ?
- Strategic petroleum reserves (SPRs) are stockpiles of crude oil maintained by countries for release in the event of a supply disruption.
- The U.S., China, and Japan are leading crude oil consumers and maintain the largest strategic reserves.
- Many nation’s SPR are stored deep underground in salt caves.
- Strategic petroleum reserves can help a country weather a sudden and temporary disruption in supply after a natural disaster, accident, or the imposition of economic sanctions.
- Strategic reserves are stockpiles of crude oil that have already been extracted and can be promptly refined into fuels.
- They are not to be confused with proven oil reserves, an estimate of crude still in the ground that could be extracted in the long term.
INDIA’S SORs :
- India currently has an SPR capacity of 5.33 million tonnes, or around 39 million barrels of crude, that can meet around 9.5 days of demand.
- The country is in the process of expanding its SPR capacity by a cumulative 6.5 million tonnes at two locations — Chandikhol in Odisha (4 million tonnes) and Padur (2.5 million tonnes).
- If the idea comes to fruition, India could get its first salt cavern-based oil storage facility.
- The country’s three existing strategic oil storage facilities — at Mangaluru and Padur in Karnataka, and Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh — are made up of excavated rock caverns.
- India’s strategic oil reserves come under the Petroleum Ministry’s special purpose vehicle Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserve (ISPRL).
- EIL was instrumental in setting up the country’s existing SPR as the project management consultant.
SALT CAVERN BASED RESERVES Vs ROCK CAVERN-BASED RESERVES
- Unlike underground rock caverns, which are developed through excavation, salt caverns are developed by the process of solution mining, which involves pumping water into geological formations with large salt deposits to dissolve the salt.
- After the brine (water with dissolved salt) is pumped out of the formation, the space can be used to store crude oil.
- The process is simpler, faster, and less cost-intensive than developing excavated rock caverns.
- Salt cavern-based oil storage facilities are also naturally well-sealed, and engineered for rapid injection and extraction of oil.
- This makes them a more attractive option than storing oil in other geological formations
SYLLABUS: PRELIMS, CURRENT AFFAIRS
SOURCE: THE INDIAN EXPRESS