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Scrutiny
  
The ploy behind it...
Is this USA’s real intention behind the nuclear deal?
18/10/2007

R alph Waldo Emerson once said, “People only see what they are prepared to see.” So while the Left in India are immersed in their idiosyncratic & Jurassic age antipathy towards the American offer of the nuclear deal, the government of India is so much gung-ho about it as if, India as a country would cease to exist with credibility, if the deal doesn’t reach its culmination. In the pandemonium, certain key questions with respect to how much faith the Americans themselves have in civilian nuclear energy have gone unanswered. Surprisingly nuclear power contributes a mere 20% of the energy needs of US compared to 50% by coal. So, while the US is yet to relinquish its dependence on coal then on what basis has it been advocating India to make a fundamental shift to nuclear power? Is it a ploy to divert attention or research from something else? Well, keep reading… Of late the world has realised the immense potential of methane hydrate as probably the next big source for energy.

Reports state that US alone is estimated to have a staggering 2,00,000 trillion cubic feet of gas equivalent of methane non-hydrate reserve of 25,000 t.c.f. But still US doesn’t have the technology to commercially extract it though its working hard on it. Now here’s the catch. Methane hydrate is something which has not only grabbed the attention of the US but also of India, Russia and Japan. So much so that in certain respects, research and development of technology to commercially extract this methane has gathered more momentum in India under the National Gas Hydrate Program, than in the US. The fact that it doesn’t have either a monopoly or leadership in this research is something which hasn’t gone down well with the US policy makers. In his speech on April 24, 2007, Dendy Sloan, Chairman of Methane Hydrate Advisory Committee of US stated, “It was also noted that, several countries are aggressively investing in methane hydrate program and they threaten the leadership role of the United States in developing this ground breaking technology.” Similarly, The Guardian had published an article on April 03, 2005, titled ‘US in race to unlock new energy source’ in which Ray Bosewell who headed the US hydrate Program at the US Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory had stated that US was determined to be the first to mine the resource & that the reasons for the US to invest in hydrates is to maintain their leadership position in this emerging technology.
No doubt that the Indo-US nuclear deal would slow down the urgency of methane hydrate research in India by a long margin or might kill it as well, much to the glee of the Americans. India though has an estimated 1900 trillion cubic meters of methane hydrate deposit. This essentially would take place at a time when US is endeavouring to commercialise methane hydrate gas extraction by 2025, and further reduce its dependence on nuclear energy. All the more reason for it to sell its civilian nuclear technology much before it reaches obsolescence. It’s intriguing how India has been seduced into this even though methane hydrate as an alternate energy source would have proved to be more commercially feasible, environment friendly and less hazardous. Don’t be surprised, if a few decades from now the US comes up with another proposal for a fresh deal to sell methane hydrate extraction technology to India. Wish the Indian Left had the intellect to comprehend this unstated thing between the stated lines.

By:- Pathikrit Payne
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