India outlines its first coalbed methane offering during US road show

A delegation of India's oil and coal officials Monday outlined the details of seven coalbed methane (CBM) exploration and production blocks up for bidding. CBM potential in the seven blocks is 225 billion cu m, Syed Shahnawaz Hussain, India's Minister of State for Coal, told a gathering in Houston Monday.


Paula Dittrick
OGJ Online

HOUSTON, May 21 -- A delegation of India's oil and coal officials Monday outlined the details of seven coalbed methane (CBM) exploration and production blocks up for bidding.

CBM potential in the seven blocks is 225 billion cu m, Syed Shahnawaz Hussain, India's Minister of State for Coal, told a gathering in Houston Monday. The delegation plans a Wednesday presentation in Denver, Colo.

Initial stages of exploration and assessment have started on some of the blocks, Hussain said. As of Jan. 1, India had coal reserves of 213.9 billion tonnes, up to 1,200 m depth.

India is the third largest coal producer, behind China and the US, with 309.74 million tonnes during 2000-2001. The Ministry of Coal projects coal demand of 562.5 million tonnes in 2006-2007 and 775.3 million tonnes in 2011-2012.

Shri Ram Naik, Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas, said the US has been the leader of CBM production worldwide. "We want to join the CBM club ... we believe the US has the best expertise available."

India has a population of more than 1 billion people, he said, adding the annual growth rate is 6-7%/year compared with a worldwide population growth rate of 1.5-2%/year.

In January, Naik led a ministerial delegation on an international tour showcasing the second round of India's New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP II) blocks. At that time, he emphasized the need for India to transform its oil and gas sector and build its domestic production (OGJ Online, Jan. 29, 2001).

On Monday, Naik said 25 NELP-I blocks have been awarded and 25 NELP-II blocks will be awarded, making 50 oil and gas exploration blocks to be awarded in India within 1 year. "In the last 10 years, India only offered 22 blocks," Naik said.

"This CBM offer also marks our first attempt to harness a new source of hydrocarbons," Naik said.

Of the seven CBM blocks, two are in Jharkhand state (Bokaro and North Karanpura coal fields), three in Madhya Pradesh state (Sohagpur coal field has two blocks and Satpura coal field has one block). One block is being offered in Rajasthan state (Barmer coal field) and West Bengal state (Raniganj coal field).

Fiscal and contract terms for the CBM blocks were based on the policies of countries including the US, Poland, China, and Australia, he said.

Indian oil and coal officials are working with the US Department of Energy to organize a June trip to India for companies interested in visiting the CBM blocks up for offer, he said.

The bid closing date for the first round of CBM will be Aug. 31. A data center was opened in Houston for companies to review information on the CBM blocks.

"The bids for CBM will be finalized expeditiously and in a time bound manner to commence exploration activities of CBM in the country at the earliest," Naik said.

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