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India begins tapping gas from coal bed

BS Reporter  |  New Delhi 

India today joined a select group of countries producing gas from coal bed, technically referred to as Coal Bed Methane (CBM).
Great Eastern Energy Corporation Ltd (GEECL), a YK Modi group company, kicked off the country's first commercial sale of CBM today.
GEECL is targeting an initial production of 1.5 million cubic feet a day. The estimated 'in-place' gas in the block is 1.38 trillion cubic feet (tcf), as per a 2005 Schlumberger report.
The production makes India one the eight countries in the world to produce gas from coal beds. Having the fourth largest coal reserves in the world, India is slated to be one of the biggest producers of CBM. Based on results of the current CBM exploration in the country, the gas resource base is around 16 tcf.
The Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) has already approved investment of $150 million for drilling 100 production wells in four years. The company has completed drilling of over 20 production wells.
Reliance Industries (RIL) and Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), the country's two biggest exploration and production companies of conventional oil and gas, have already started recovering some gas from coal beds.
The DGH has accepted in-place gas reserves of 3.65 tcf in RIL's block in Sohagpur in Madhya Pradesh. The ONGC block in Bokaro has reserves of around 1.2 tcf, an ONGC official said.
Commercial production of CBM by RIL is expected to start by the end of this year. ONGC is planning commercial production from its West Bengal block in 2008. Peak production of CBM from these two blocks together is expected to be 25 million cubic metre per day (mcmd), an ONGC official said.
So far, 26 coal beds have been auctioned by the petroleum ministry for recovery of gas, in three rounds of auctions.
ONGC has interest in nine blocks "" four on its own and five in joint ventures with Indian Oil (two blocks), Coal India (two blocks) and Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation Ltd (one block).

First Published: Sun, July 15 2007. 00:00 IST