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State-owned Coal India has invited bids from licensors of coal gasification technology to set up coal-to-methanol plant in West Bengal. "Coal India Ltd (CIL) is exploring the technical possibilities for cleaner utilisation of coal," Power Minister Piyush Goyal said in a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha. In this direction, an expression of interest has been floated last month, for inviting offers for pre-qualification of licensors of coal gasification technology for setting up of coal to methanol plant in the premises of Dakuni Coal complex, West Bengal, Goyal said. Under the CBM policy, ONGC and CIL are joint partners in developing Jaria coal bed methane (CBM) block and Raniganj North CBM block. The CBM blocks are given to the consortium of CIL and ONGC on nomination basis by the government. Both the blocks have entered into development phase, the minister said. Further, the government has permitted CIL and its subsidiary companies to take up exploration and exploitation of CBM on commercial lines from the coal bearing areas for which they possess mining lease for coal. Under this arrangement, CIL has identified two areas one each in Raniganj coal field and Jaria coal field for extraction of CBM from the existing mining leases. Gas assessment from these areas is under study, he said adding that on completion of the relevant studies and other statutory clearances, these blocks are expected to commence production in 2020-21. In a separate reply, the minister said the policy for development of underground coal gasification (UCG) has been approved by the government in 2015.
Subsequently, an inter-ministerial committee (IMC) has been constituted in the ministry of coal with other members. A consultant has been engaged for formulation of bid document and model contract documents for development of UCG. The draft document submitted by the consultant was considered by the panel in the meeting held in February and comments of the members were sought on the draft document. "No estimates were available in regard to the resources extracted through UCG. However, IMC is considering possible areas," the minister said.
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