Himalayan News Service

New Delhi, June 13:

India is expected to invite bids for seven blocks of coal bed methane under the third round of exploration for an energy resource seen as supplementing the country’s growing need for gas, officials said. India has rich resources of coal bed methane estimated at 1,000 billion tonnes, compared with 200 billion tonnes of coal and lignite. Methane is mainly found in the Gondwana basin, spread over Bihar, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. “We estimate that seven coal bed methane blocks will be offered in the next round that is likely in September after the data collection is completed,” a senior official said, “We are talking to various state governments including Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh so that the blocks there can also be included in the third round.” India is currently in the process of identifying the coal blocks to be offered under the third round so that the domestic supply of hydrocarbons can be enhanced, official sources said.

In the previous two rounds of bids to tap coal bed methane, the government had signed contracts for 16 blocks in West Bengal, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Gujarat. Coal bed methane is expected to help India supplement its gas requirement, which is estimated at 120 million standard cubic metres per day. But the availability is far below at about 80 million standard cubic metres. India is expected to soon begin commercial exploitation of coal bed methane in some areas and the gas will be utilised locally for both domestic and industrial usages, as it cannot be transported over long distance unlike natural gas. Pakistan has also expressed a desire to see how coal bed methane exploration is carried out.