GJ consultant on ground floor of gas shale project in India

On a plain not unlike parts of west Texas, a Grand Junction geologist this winter presided over the beginning of what could become a natural gas boom in India.

Gerald Daub, who heads Grand Junction-based Daub and Associates, was contacted in the fall of 2013 by a company in India seeking a shale gas expert who could head up a project aimed at learning the potential of gas-bearing shale in the Cambay Basin along the northwest coast of India.

The site of the first test hole is now marked with a plaque that denotes its significance to a country that depends largely on imported sources of energy.

Its importance was underscored by the construction of a helipad to accept helicopters bearing dignitaries to see the beginning of the shale-gas industry in India, Daub said.

There was a strong international presence, with the likes of Halliburton and Weatherford, both oil-patch giants, contributing to the test. He was the only American on site, Daub said.

“My job was to coordinate all that activity,” as the hole was drilled into a deep and extensive shale formation.

“We pulled 140 meters (about 400 feet) of core, that’s a lot of core,” up from the formation, Daub said.

“Core” refers to the column of shale brought up through the drill pipe from hundreds, even thousands of feet below the surface. Up top, it can be tested and inspected, a process that’s continuing, Daub said.

The Cambay shale where the test was done is 2,300 feet thick.

By way of comparison, the Mancos shale under the Grand Valley is some 4,000 feet deep and the Niobrara, which is being drilled in eastern Colorado and on the Western Slope, ranges from approximately 300 feet thick in eastern Colorado to 1,500 feet thick in the northwest corner.

The Cambay shale is “a very thick stratigraphic sequence within which there could be tremendous potential for natural gas,” Daub said, striking a cautious tone on the prospects of the formation.

But its importance can’t be understated.

The dozens of photos and videos of the drill site and of Vadodara, the city previously known as Baroda, where he stayed, show intense crowding that underscores his point about the importance of the Cambay shale.

“You’re talking 1.3 billion people living in an area that’s one third the size of the United States,” Daub said.

“It’s hard to comprehend those numbers, but once you’re out on the street, you can see them,” Daub said.


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