Saturday, 15 December 2012

Guar seeds-A poor man’s curry turns into a vital element for fracking

It’s often the most hotly debated question in the quest for natural gas. Much of the argument against natural gas drilling – known as fracking – is that the chemicals used during the process could have detrimental effects on the surrounding environment. The chemicals that gas companies use - which can include water, sand, salt, citric acid, benzene or lead, according to a research report – can be hazardous if not properly isolated and stored. However, U.S state and federal lawmakers are working to establish a system of rules to regulate the drilling, and most gas and oil companies have said maintaining the environment and preventing leaks are paramount concerns for them as well. At this critical circumstance there is an innovative solution to the problem for preventing environmental menace, that is the guar seeds commonly called cluster beans grows in dry climate. The recent discovery states that guar powder gum could stiffen water so much that a mixture is able to carry sand sideways into wells drilled by horizontal fracturing, also known as fracking. This discovery really stands apt to recall the stance"Necessity is the mother of invention".

For centuries, Indian farmers used guar to feed their families and their cattle. There are better sources of nutrition, but few that grow in the Rajasthani desert, a land rich in culture but poor in rain. Broader commercial interest in guar first developed when food companies found that it absorbs water like a souped-up cornstarch, and a powdered form of the bean is now widely used to thicken ice cream and keep pastries crisp.

The fracking boom in the United States has led to a surge in natural gas production, a decline in oil imports and a gradual transition away from coal-fired power plants. Fracking may also have spoiled some rural water supplies and caused environmental damage in parts of the United States, but it is hard to find anyone in Rajasthan who sees fracking as anything but a blessing.

By the way what is mean by the so called fracking?

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is the process of extracting natural grass from shale rock layers deep within the earth. Fracking makes it possible to produce natural gas extraction in shale plays that were once unreachable with conventional technologies. Recent advancements in drilling technology have led to new man-made hydraulic fractures in shale plays that were once not available for exploration. In fact, three dimensional imaging helps scientists determine the precise locations for drilling.Horizontal drilling (along with traditional vertical drilling) allows for the injection of highly pressurized fracking fluids into the shale area. This creates new channels within the rock from which natural gas is extracted at higher than traditional rates. This drilling process can take up to a month, while the drilling teams delve more than a mile into the Earth’s surface. After which, the well is cased with cement to ensure groundwater protection, and the shale is hydraulically fractured with water and other fracking fluids.

What is Shale gas?

Gas trapped in sedimentary rocks below the earth’s surface — is the new focus area in the US, Canada and China as an alternative to conventional oil and gas for meeting growing energy needs.

Energy exploration companies also are looking at guar alternatives (existing ones for the food industry are either not available in large amounts or are unsuitable). Both Halliburton and Schlumberger giants in this field are exploring alternatives with synthetic hydrocolloids. “They have all got something, but nothing works as well as guar,” Sources says.
“Without guar, you cannot have fracturing fluids,” said Michael J. Economides, a professor of engineering at the University of Houston who is a fracking expert. “And what everybody is worried about is that there is virtually no guar out there now.”

The origin behind Guar:

Guar or cluster bean(in Tamil கொத்தவரைக்காய்) is believed to have originated in Africa but is been grown throughout southern Asia since ancient times as vegetable and fodder crop. Guar has been cultivated in India and Pakistan for ages for use of its tender pods as fresh vegetables and other parts of the lants to be used as cattle feed. The plant is extremely drought‐resistant, being able to absorb efficiently all ground water. It grows therefore easily in those semi‐arid regions where less hardy crops perish. The major world supplier of guar seed are India, Pakistan and United States.

But now potential efforts are taken seriously in guar cultivation in China, Australia, California and south America are rasing as there were huge demand for it in future for gas exploring energy industries. Hence now its listed among the top five commodities traded in the futures market along with gold, silver, chana and copper.

Production of Guar is mainly concentrated in the arid region of north west india Rajasthan, Gujarat, Haryana and some part of Punjab. Rajasthan contributes more than 70% in Guar production therefore industry based on Guar is also concentrated at Jodhpur and surroundings in Rajasthan. India is the largest producer of Guar seed in the world, constitute about 80% of the total production in which Rajasthan is a leading producer of guar accounting for about 75% of all India’s output. The below chart could picturize the state wise share of guar.

This gives a clear sign that India has potential growth for cultivating guar seeds and the major contribution comes from north western part where as southern India also has potential possibility and oppurtuinity to cultivate this rather using it for fodder,vegetables and conventional usages.Also many guar gum production industry has spurred up in rajasthan.I believe the awareness and knowledge about the guar seeds applications is not well known to the south Indian farmers.

Many energy analyst in U.S, cautioned that the fracking boom could slow and that guar alternatives could be developed. But Mr. Economides, the Houston fracking expert, dismissed such talk. “There are no easy or cheap alternatives to guar,” he said.That is good news for guar producers. Farmers, traders and processors around Jodhpur admitted fulfilling some long-held dreams with the profits they made last year. As western nation are trying out innovative alternatives for meeting the soaring energy demands through methods like shale gas exploration through  fracking techniques.By the way India will launch its first-ever bid round for exploration of shale oil and gas by December 2013, Oil Minister S Jaipal Reddy said.

“We are pursuing the development of shale gas in the country. We have undertaken the mapping of shale gas resources and are working to put in place a regulatory regime for licensing round in shale gas, by December 2013,” he said. Six basins,  Cambay, Assam-Arakan, Gondawana, KG onshore, Cauvery onshore and Indo Gangetic basins, have been identified that may have shale gas potential.

Recommended Reading:

1.CNN Report
2.National Multi commodity exchange of India report. 

Best Regards,


  1. Hey! I just noticed another message in another blog that seemed like this. How have you learnt all this stuff?
    That’s one cool post.
    Heirloom seeds

  2. Useful info about Guar seeds. we like this blog..

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