Policy report likely to be ready by April ’08

Policy report likely to be ready by April ’08

The task force constituted to help streamline the existing coal-bed methane policy plans to submit its report by April.

The policy is expected to address a range of issues, including the provision of fresh incentives to stoke foreign investments and combining methane extraction with coal mining, especially where blocks overlap.

“We are preparing a report to address these issues. Our group has representation from GAIL (India) Ltd, NTPC Ltd, Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL), Indian School of Mines, Coal India Ltd, among others," said A.K. Hazarika, director, onshore, ONGC Ltd, and head of the task force.

Coal-bed methane could be a viable alternative fuel for several industries and is a gas found between layers of coal beds that is produced by a process of de-pressurizing and de-watering. India’s demand for gas is currently 179.17 million standard cubic metre per day (mscmd), while the supply is 80.54 mscmd.

Experts say that the volume of such methane is related to the amount of coal in a country, and India has the fourth-largest reserves of coal in the world. The government has awarded 26 methane blocks for exploration. The total resources in these blocks is 1,374 billion cubic metres, with a production potential of about 38 mscmd, about half of the country’s current gas demand.

Yogendra Modi, chairman and chief executive officer, Great Eastern Energy Corp. Ltd (GEECL), the first company in India to explore, develop, distribute and market such methane, said: “We expect the task force report to be positive, which will help companies like us to go along with the existing mining companies."