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April 22 @ 7:00 am - 11:30 pm


The two Industrial Revolutions were ignited by human’s breakthrough in extracting hydrocarbons. These substances fuelled large engines, resulting in the pollution of the air, water, and atmosphere, and significantly exacerbating global warming. 

Given the escalating threat of global warming, it is imperative for the world to explore less detrimental methods of harnessing hydrocarbons. 

What are Hydrocarbons? 

  • Organic compounds consist of atoms of hydrogen and carbon. 
  • Formed naturally in plants, trees, and fossil fuels. 
  • Primary components of petroleum and natural gas, used in fuels, plastics, and various industrial applications. 

Types of Hydrocarbons: 

Alkanes (Saturated): 

  • Consist of single bonds between carbon atoms. 
  • Examples: Methane (CH4), Ethane (C2H6). 
  • Properties: Non-reactive; primarily used as fuels. 

Alkenes (Unsaturated with Double Bonds): 

  • Contain at least one double bond between carbon atoms. 
  • Examples: Ethylene (C2H4), Propylene (C3H6). 
  • Properties: More reactive than alkanes; used in chemical synthesis and plastics production. 

Alkynes (Unsaturated with Triple Bonds): 

  • Contain at least one triple bond between carbon atoms. 
  • Example: Acetylene (C2H2). 
  • Properties: Extremely reactive; used in welding and chemical processes. 

Aromatic Hydrocarbons (Arenes): 

  • Contain rings of carbon atoms with alternating double bonds (aromatic rings). 
  • Examples: Benzene (C6H6), Toluene (C7H8). 
  • Properties: Stable due to aromatic rings; used in manufacturing dyes, detergents, and explosives. 

Formation and Storage of Hydrocarbons: 

Hydrocarbons are found beneath sedimentary rocks, formed over millions of years. 

Formation process: 

  • Dead plants and animals buried underground provide carbon content. 
  • Over time, mud settles over the buried debris and converts into rock. 
  • Intense heat and pressure transform debris into fossil fuels like crude oil and natural gas. 
  • Absence of oxygen and air is crucial for hydrocarbon formation. 
  • Reservoirs created when more resistant rock overlays less resistant rock, trapping hydrocarbons below. 
  • Natural gas, being less dense, accumulates above crude oil. 

Accessing Hydrocarbons: 

Creating Production Well: 

  • First step involves drilling a production well, strategically positioned to maximize drainage from the reservoir. 
  • Utilizes drilling machines to create the well. 

Casing and Cementing: 

  • Steel casings, narrower than the well, are inserted and surrounded by cement slurry to prevent cave-ins and fluid intrusion. 
  • Drilling fluid, circulated around the drill bit, aids in cooling and removing rock cuttings. 

Blowout Prevention: 

  • Careful control of drilling fluid pressure prevents sudden eruptions of hydrocarbons. 


  • Process involves recording depth and studying properties of rock cuttings. 


  • Conducted by drilling rigs, equipped with generators and batteries for power. 
  • Offshore rigs enhance stability and assist in extraction through water. 

Extracting Hydrocarbons: 

Completing Stage: 

Involves removing the drill string from the borehole and creating small holes in the casing to drain hydrocarbons. 

Production Stage: 

  • Control systems and valves manage hydrocarbon outflow at the well’s head. 
  • Pump jacks lift hydrocarbons from the well bottom when pressure difference is insufficient. 
  • Extraction phases include primary, secondary, and tertiary methods depending on production maintenance requirements. 
  • Primary phase relies on natural pressure differences. 
  • Secondary phase involves inducing artificial pressure. 
  • Tertiary phase uses enhanced recovery techniques like steam injection. 

Well, Plugging and Decommissioning: 

  • Extraction is ceased when no longer profitable, and abandoned wells must be plugged to prevent hydrocarbon leakage. 
  • Decommissioning involves permanently sealing the well, but it’s often costly and not financially feasible for operators. 

Government initiatives: 

Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP): 

Approved by the Indian government, HELP serves as an exploration and production policy replacing the New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP). 

  • Objective: To strengthen the domestic production of oil and gas by increasing efforts in exploration and investment. 
  • Simplified Rules: HELP promises simpler regulations, tax incentives, pricing and marketing freedom to attract investment. 
  • Government Strategy: Forms part of the government’s strategy to double oil and gas output by 2022-23. 
  • Transparency and Reduction of Administrative Discretion: HELP aims to enhance transparency in the sector and reduce administrative discretion, promoting a more efficient and fair process. 

Open Acreage Licensing Programme (OLAP): 

Under HELP, OLAP removes restrictions on exploration by providing companies with both data and discretion to explore areas of their choice. 

  • This program allows companies to select and explore areas based on their own assessment and preferences, facilitating a more market-driven approach to hydrocarbon exploration. 
  • OLAP represents a significant shift from government-controlled exploration to a system where companies have more autonomy and flexibility in their exploration activities. 
  • By removing barriers and providing data, OLAP encourages greater participation from both domestic and international players, potentially leading to increased discoveries and production of hydrocarbons in India 

Mains Question: 

  1. Discuss the significance of the Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP) in India’s efforts to enhance domestic oil and gas production, and evaluate the impact of the Open Acreage Licensing Programme (OLAP) on the hydrocarbon exploration sector. (150 WORDS)


April 22
7:00 am - 11:30 pm
Event Category:
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