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Day 42 – Q 1.Discuss the distribution of major natural gas basins in the world. Also, examine the potential of natural gas as a remedy of world’s energy security woes.

1. Discuss the distribution of major natural gas basins in the world. Also, examine the potential of natural gas as a remedy of world’s energy security woes. 

दुनिया में प्रमुख प्राकृतिक गैस बेसिन के वितरण पर चर्चा करें। इसके अलावा, दुनिया की ऊर्जा सुरक्षा के संकट के उपाय के रूप में प्राकृतिक गैस की क्षमता की जांच करें।


Natural gas is a mixture of gases which are rich in hydrocarbons. All these gases (methane, nitrogen, carbon dioxide etc) are naturally found in atmosphere. Natural gas reserves are deep inside the earth near other solid & liquid hydrocarbons beds like coal and crude oil.


Nearly 80% of the world’s total proven natural gas reserves are located in ten countries. According to the ranking of OPEC, 10 major natural gas basins distributed around the world are:

  • Russia: Holds the largest amount of natural gas reserves in the world, accounting for about one fourth of the world’s total proven gas reserves. Majorly located in Siberia, namely Yamburg, Urengoy and Medvezh’ye.
  • Iran: World’s second biggest natural gas reserves. More than 60% of Iran’s natural gas reserves are located offshore. South Pars is the largest gas field. North Pars, Kish and Kangan are the other major natural gas fields in Iran.
  • Qatar: Holds the third largest natural gas reserves in the world, accounts for around 13% of the world’s reserves. Qatar is also the single largest LNG supplier in the world. A vast majority of the country’s natural gas reserves are located in the giant offshore North Field.
  • Turkmenistan: Most of Turkmenistan’s proven gas reserves are located in the Amu Darya basin in the south-east and in the Murgab South Caspian basins in the western part of the country. The South Yolotan area in the eastern region of Turkmenistan also contains significant gas reserves.
  • USA: The Barnett play located in Texas and Montana, Haynesville play in the Texas-Louisiana Salt Basin, Marcellus Shale play in the Appalachian Basin, Fayetteville play, Woodford play in Oklahoma and Texas and the Eagle Ford play, in the Western Gulf Basin of South Texas, are the major shale plays contributing to the country’s natural gas expansions.
  • Saudi Arabia: Associated gas at the giant oil fields, such as the Ghawar onshore field and the offshore fields Safaniya and Zuluf, account for about 57% of the country’s proven gas reserves. Karan gas field and the Arabiyah and Hasbah gas fields are other major non-associated gas fields.
  • UAE: About 94% of the country’s proven natural gas reserves are located in Abu Dhabi. Sharjah and Dubai account for four percent and 1.5% of UAE’s total gas reserves respectively. 
  • Venezuela: World’s biggest oil reserves holding country, possesses the eighth largest gas reserve. Onshore fields such as Anaco, Barrancas and Yucal Place and Plataforma Deltona, Marsical Sucre and Blanquilla-Tortuga areas off the north-east coast of Venezuela, and the gas blocks in the Gulf of Venezuela in the north-western part of the country.
  • Nigeria: Most of natural gas reserves of the country are located in the Niger Delta. 
  • Algeria: More than half of Algeria’s proven natural gas reserves are contained in the country’s largest gas field, Hassi R’Mel. Associated and non-associated fields in the south and south-east regions of the country comprise the remaining gas reserves of the country.
  • India: Ranks 23rd in the proven natural gas reserves. KG basins, Assam, Gulf of Khambhat, Cuddalore district of Tamil Nadu, Barmer in Rajasthan etc are major regions. 

Potential of natural gas:

  • Economy: Natural gas is cheaper compared to other fossil fuels and cheaper than electricity when used for supplying home appliances. Natural gas appliances are also cheaper compared to electrical ones.
  • Environment: It does not pollute the ground or the underground water because its by-products are in gaseous form. Another important fact is that natural gas burns without releasing any soot or sulphur dioxide. It also emits 45% less carbon dioxide than coal and 30% less than oil.
  • Transportation: Transportation is made via sea (tankers) and land (pipelines and small tanks). This fact allows natural gas to be easily transferred from power plants to residential areas.
  • Multi-uses: Natural gas is a multi-use fuel. It is used inside the house for cooking, heating, drying, etc. It can be used for generating electric power, powering vehicles (by substituting for diesel and gasoline), producing plastics, paints, fertilizers, and many more uses.
  • Availability: It is abundant and almost worldwide available.
  • Conversion to Hydrogen Fuel: It is currently the cheapest fossil fuel source for producing hydrogen.

Challenges associated:

  • Flammable and Toxic: Natural gas leaks can be proven to be extremely dangerous. The main risk comes from the fact that it is naturally odourless and cannot be detected by smell, unless an odorant has been added to the gas mixture. 
  • Environmental Impact:  Although, it is cleaner than other fossil fuels (oil, coal, etc.) as far as by-products are concerned, natural gas leaks can become more hazardous due to production of greenhouse gases.
  • Processing: In order to use it as a fuel, the processing results in several by-products: hydrocarbons (ethane, propane, etc.), sulphur, water vapour, carbon dioxide, and even helium and nitrogen.
  • Non-Renewable: It is a finite source of energy and cannot be considered a long-term solution to our energy supply problem.
  • Installation: The whole pipe installation may be very expensive to construct since long pipes, specialized tanks, and separate plumbing systems need to be used. Pipe leakage may also be very expensive to detect and fix.
  • Efficiency in Transportation: When natural gas is used as a fuel in cars, the mileage is lower than gasoline.
  • Conversion to Hydrogen Fuel: A drawback in producing hydrogen from natural gas is that efficiency drops to almost 50% compared to the original chemical energy.


Despite the disadvantages, it is remarkable that the entire cycle of producing, processing, transporting and using natural gas provides us with a total energy efficiency of almost 90%. With new drilling techniques and effective mitigation norms we can have inexpensive energy and a cleaner environment, however, over-exploitation of any resource is bound to have its own repercussions.

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