Hydrocarbon extraction in Discovered Small Field (DSF) in Neduvasal, TN, india

The villagers of Neduvasal are protesting a hydrocarbon extraction project proposed by the Centre. Neduvasal has a healthy multi-crop farm economy and farmers fear that the project will disturb the environment and their livelihoods.


On February 15, the Cabinet committee on economic affairs approved the award of contracts for exploration of 44 small oil fields across India. Neduvasal, a fertile village of the Cauvery delta in Tamil Nadu, is one of the 31 contract areas where exploration of hydrocarbons is to be taken up.  These fields were offered under a new policy for small fields known as the Discovered Small Field (DSF) policy, 2015, launched to unlock the hydrocarbon potential of small and marginal fields. This project is part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ambitious plan to reduce oil imports by 10 percent by 2022.

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Basic Data
NameHydrocarbon extraction in Discovered Small Field (DSF) in Neduvasal, TN, india
ProvinceTamil Nadu
SiteNeduvasal (Cauvery delta)
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Oil and gas exploration and extraction
Specific CommoditiesCrude oil
Natural Gas
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsNeduvasal field: The Neduvasal oil field reportedly has a seven-year mining lease that expires on December 31, 2019. The leased area is 10 sq. km from within which oil and gas can be extracted by the contractor. The project been awarded to Gem Laboratories Private Limited and is expected to yield 62 million metric tonnes of crude oil and gas. Gem Laboratories has revealed that it has not made up its mind on the technology to be deployed to extract the hydrocarbons. Onshore exploratory and production wells in the Cauvery delta are drilled to depths of between 1,750 m and 6,000 m. And the Neduvasal field, too, if developed will be drilled on to these depths. The project would generate 500 direct jobs and Rs 300 crore, the Union ministry of petroleum and natural gas said in a statement on Monday, and Tamil Nadu can earn `40 crore in royalty by implementing them

Overarching DSF policy: The cumulative peak production from the 31 fields is expected to be around 15,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil and two million metric standard cubic metres per day (mmscmd) of gas over the economic life of the asset. The estimated total revenue would be approximately Rs 46,400 crore, of which royalty collection and Government's revenue share is expected to be around Rs 5,000 crore and Rs 9,300 crore, respectively. More than 700 wells have been drilled for extraction of oil and gas in the Tamil Nadu.

HELP policy: This new Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP) replaced the previous licensing format (NELP) which was already in place for 18 years. The New Exploration Licensing policy(NELP) had issued separate licenses to different types of hydrocarbons, whereas HELP covered all hydrocarbons such as oil, gas, coal bed methane, shale etc. An Open Acreage Licensing Policy will be implemented whereby a bidder may apply to the Government seeking exploration of any block not already covered by exploration. The contractor will have freedom for pricing and marketing of gas produced in the domestic market on arms length basis.
Project Area (in hectares)1,000
Type of PopulationRural
Start Date16/02/2017
Company Names or State EnterprisesOil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC) from India - Dug an exploratory well in the region and discontinued due to economic inviability
GEM Laboratories from India - New contractors for the project
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationLawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Distribution of pamphlets
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Air pollution, Other Environmental impacts
OtherLand subsidence and salinity intrusion

Blow-outs and explosions
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCourt decision (undecided)
Project temporarily suspended
Case filed with the National Green Tribunal (NGT)
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.Though the hydrocarbon extraction project at Neduvasal has come to a temporary halt at the moment, there has been no indication of a permanent call-off. Also the Hydrocarbon Exploration Licensing Policy, HELP, needs to be reevaluated.
Sources and Materials

Press release of contract of Discovered Small Fields ONGC and OIL
[click to view]


Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (NORM) in Produced Water and Oil-Field Equipment - An Issue for the Energy Industry
[click to view]

Technical EIA Guidance Manual for Offshore and Onshore Oil and Gas Exploration, Development and Production
[click to view]

Oil and Gas at you door? A Landowner's Guide to Oil and Gas Development
[click to view]


Project details
[click to view]

All You Need to Know About the Neduvasal Protests Against Hydrocarbon Extraction
[click to view]

In Tamil Nadu’s Cauvery delta, villagers say oil wells have contaminated the groundwater
[click to view]

Protest against hydrocarbon project suspended in Vadakadu
[click to view]

Tamil Nadu's New Protest Over Project From PM Narendra Modi's Big Oil Plan
[click to view]

TN gas project safe, will generate Rs 300 crore, 500 jobs, says Centre
[click to view]

Other Documents

Protest site Credit: Nityanand Jayaraman
[click to view]

Protesters Credit: Nityanand Jayaraman
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorArpita Lulla, Kalpavriksh, [email protected]
Last update13/11/2017