Prashant Modi’s GEECL wins 25 % stake in ONGC’s Raniganj CBM block

Great Eastern Energy Corporation Ltd. (GEECL) led by Prashant Modi, on Monday, said it had won a 25 per cent stake in Oil and Natural Gas Corporation’s (ONGC) Raniganj coal-bed methane (CBM) block in West Bengal.

Confirming the development, Prashant Modi, President and COO of GEECL said: “We are delighted to have been selected as the perfect bidder by ONGC on this key CBM Indian development opportunity. This brings in another exciting area of development into our operations. We have demonstrated our capabilities in this sector through Ranigunj (South) block and we look forward to working with our partners and enhancing the reserve base of the company”

The company said it had accepted ONGC’s offer on May 17, which is subject to execution of farm-in related and joint operatorship agreements with ONGC and the approval from the Government. GEECL’s Raniganj (South) block in Damodar Valley has an estimated in place reserves of 2.40 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas. The block started gas production from below coal seams (called CBM) in 2007. In 2010, GEECL was awarded the Mannargudi block (667 sq km) in Tamil Nadu. The block, as per the DGH, holds 0.98 tcf of in place gas reserves.

Prashant Modi and Great Eastern Energy Corporation Limited

Great Eastern Energy Corporation Limited was the first Indian Company to be listed on the London Stock Market. The pioneering enterprise to extract methane gas from West Bengal coal-bed blocks began in 2007. Until that time, no other Indian company had attempted this. Prashant Modi joined the company in 1996 and has overseen the operation. He is the company President and Officer in charge of operations.

Production Profile: Coal Bed Methane

Coal Bed Methane (CBM) is farmable for decades. This indicates a fairly sustainable energy source. After a slow start, with fairly low production, there is a peak in the amount Prashant Modi GEECLbeing produced. The amount being farmed will start to drop after approximately 25-30 years.

The gas being produced is economical, when compared to some of the alternatives being used in the region. Once popular furnace oil for example, is more expensive than CBM and dirtier to use. There are limits to how long people can use such energies because they are so unclean. CBM however, is extremely clean to use, as it contains 97 per cent methane.


Prashant Modi, signed an agreement with Indian Oil in 2007. This allowed the company to begin widening their distribution network by building a pipeline to service other regions in West Bengal. Gas was also sold from several of Indian Oil’s petrol stations.

The first wells were set up in Raniganj and production was experimental at first. Over time, the process was perfected. Initially, there were only several industrial companies being supplied with the gas. The demand for sustainable energy in India continues to grow. Great Eastern has plans to ramp up production of Coal Bed Methane to supply the demand.

Once way to do this, has been by actively acquiring more coal-bed blocks for drilling. Secondly, the company have widened the supply network to other areas of West Bengal. This year, much of the hard work has paid off and GEECL have enjoyed considerable financial growth. In the future, the plans are for the company to continue to grow, by producing more CBM and distributing it to consumers. The aim is for more blocks to be secured and drilled.

Prashant Modi says the future is bright for CBM in India

Prashant Modi - Coal bed methaneCoal Bed Methane
by Prashant Modi

Expansion plans are in the works for CBM producer GEECL, according to its president, Prashant Modi. The company has been awarded the Mannargudi CBM block, located in Tamil Nabu, although production has not begun, Modi explains, as GEECL are still awaiting environmental clearance from the government. This has not deterred them however; Modi recently announced that GEECL had bid for yet another CBM block located in Raniganj. As they have no intention of expanding into conventional coal mining, all investment money is now being put towards CBM production opportunities.

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Although Prashant Modi is generally very optimistic about the future of coal bed methane production in India, he has stated that it will most likely continue to be a small player in the total energy sources used by the country for the next couple of years. However, this will change as more wells are up and running, Modi predicts, as coal bed methane is not only environmentally friendly, but also highly beneficial for the domestic market. If properly explored and produced, it will be able to meet about fifteen percent of the country’s energy needs over the course of the next ten years.

GEECL has also been moving forward with its gas pipeline construction – its first one spans more than twelve kilometres from Asansol’s Central Gathering Station, up to its Gas gathering station. This pipeline, Prashant Modi adds, will be a part of a network which is vertically integrated and consists of drilling, CBM production, methane compression and transportation, as well as distribution. The new gas pipeline is to cater to the energy needs of those in the Asansol and Burnpur areas, and will at a later stage provide natural gas for Durgapur and Kulti. There are also plans underway for pipeline construction along the eastern coastline, after the company received permission from the National Highway Authority of India. Prashant Modi remarked that he and the team at GEECL were very pleased with the success of the pipeline, as this represents an important milestone for the company.

Prashant Modi on GEECL’s current strategies and future plans

Prashant Modi - Future sign postFuture plans by Prashant Modi

Whilst GEECL, Prashant Modi says, has established itself as one of India’s leading producers of CBM, not all of its blocks are producing commercially at the moment. Modi believes that it will take several years, for production to begin on all of GEECL’s blocks, as the process is much slower with CBM than it is will coal and natural gas. With Coal for instance, the blocks start off slowly, and subsequently stabilise for five years, and then begin to decrease, whilst with CBM blocks, the beginning of the production is the slowest part, after which things rapidly begin to pick up. Prashant Modi predicts that CBM production will reach about 10 million cubic metres, once all of their blocks are in use.

When asked about the current challenges relating to CBM distribution infrastructure, Prashant Modi says that as far as he is concerned, the right governmental policies are required. In production sharing contracts, CBM companies are allow to built pipelines both within and out of the contact area; in the case of GEECL’s Western Bengal block, the company has built its own pipelines, investing its own money in the process.

Prashant Modi explains that with better policies, companies like his would not need to put quite so much of their own financial resources into gas pipeline infrastructure. However, he adds that it’s not all bad news; in the Mannargudi block, where there is a government pipeline, GEECL have been given permission to tap into this, which will save the company a significant amount of money, which would otherwise have been spent building more of its own pipelines.

In terms of future strategies, Prashant Modi says that his company intends to remain in the unconventional phase; that is, there are no currently plans to venture into traditional offshore drilling. GEECL’s expertise, Modi says, lies with the unconventional and this is where they want to explants. They are continuing to search and bid on more blocks, which if won, will be developed over the course of the next ten to fifteen years.

Prashant Modi – The process of generating electricity with natural gas

Prashant Modi - electricityGenerating electricity
by Prashant Modi

The primary non-residential use of natural gas is electricity generation. Prashant Modi says that globally, there is an ever-increasing need for electricity, which is coupled with the high costs of solar and wind energy, the tightening limits on noise, water, and air pollution, and the reduced tolerances for hydro and nuclear plans. This has resulted in gas-fired electricity generation becoming one of the very few options left for utility companies. Because the price of fuel accounts for almost two thirds of the price of electricity, the cost-effectiveness of the fuel used for its generation is of paramount importance.

Coal has been the dominant fuel for many of the electricity power plants around the world. However, the biggest drawback of this fuel is the pollution which it emits during combustion. Modern natural gas electricity plants are much cleaner, not to mention far more efficient than coal plants. They are also cause less pollution and noise, and are cheaper to construct. Prashant Modi also says because of these factors, obtaining permits to build these plants is normally far easier than it would for the construction of a nuclear or coal plant.

There are several different kinds of gas-powered electric plants, including steam power and combined cycle plants. In a conventional steam power plan, the natural gas is placed in a steam generator, which then produces steam that powers an enormous turbine, which subsequently generates electricity. During this process, the generator produces waste heat, and the turbine low pressure steam. The latter can sometimes be used for heating, if the demand exists however it cannot be used to generate more electricity.

In contrast, combined cycle plants generate electricity directly from a natural gas generator, after the gas is burnt in a turbine. Power is also generated from steam, which is produced from the heat of the natural gas generator. Because natural gas generators always run at very high temperatures, Prashant Modi says that the steam generated from the heat of the turbine has enough energy to drive a second steam powered turbine. Therefore, combined cycle plants are generally thought to be the most efficient natural gas electricity plants.

Prashant Modi – Investing in Natural Gas


Oil and Gas natural gas drill (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife) – Prashant Modi

Those who wish to invest in publically traded natural gas companies usually find themselves presented with a huge amount of rather confusing information on the topic, which can often serve as a deterrent to understanding, and therefore being able to analyse the sector. Here, Prashant Modi provides some simple explanations on the most common terms and concepts surrounding natural gas investments.

The term ‘reserves’ is often used by investors in this sector; this refers to the quantity of natural gas which an energy company has on its land. These hydrocarbon reserves are then categorised as possible, probable or proved. According to Prashant Modi, the most significant reserve category from an investor’s perspective is the ‘proved’ one. Proved reserves are defined as those which engineering and geological data have determined to be recoverable from the energy companies reservoirs, based on the current operating conditions, government regulations and economic methods. The economic viability of these proved reserves has to be based on the average price of them over the course of twelve months.

The majority of natural gas companies will present the amount of proved reserves in their marketing materials; however Prashant Modi says that investors should be aware that the prices the companies use may be based on different calculations, and as such should always be compared with the price of proved reserves of other companies before an investment is made. With possible or probable reserves, natural gas companies are usually given the option of disclosing the prices in regulatory filings however because there is uncertainty surrounding these two categories, Prashant Modi says that investors should not rely too heavily upon these figures.

Another frequently used term in natural gas investment circles is ‘reserves to production ratio’; this is the measurement of the amount of time it would take in years, for an energy company to produce all of its proven reserves. As a general rule of thumb, a higher ratio is more beneficial for an investor. Lastly, a term which Prashant Modi says all natural gas investors should know is ‘basis differentials’; this refers to the price discounts available in certain regions, which some companies experience during the process of selling natural gas to the market; these discounts are affected by many different factors including the quality of the natural gas, the regional demand, the capacity of the natural gas pipeline and the weather.

natural gas rig

natural gas rig (Photo credit: jermlac) – Prashant Modi

Prashant Modi – The process of methane exploration

Exploring gas by Prashant Modi

The process of locating deposits of methane gas has changed significantly over the course of the last two decades, as a result of advancements in technology. Prashant Modi says that when the industry was still in its infancy, the only way in which methane could be found was through the search for evidence on the ground’s surface of formations underground. Any companies who wished to look for methane had to painstakingly search for seepages for months on end, often with no success. The entire process was long, costly and hugely inefficient. But as the demand for methane increased over the last twenty years, so too did the necessity for a more accurate method of exploration. As a result of this, new technology was developed which made the process far more effective.

Methane Pipe

Prashant Modi – Methane Pipe (Photo credit: isnoop)

At the core of the exploration process, specialists such as engineers, geophysicists and geologists will spend a good deal of their time analysing the structure of soil where deposits may be located, so that they can determine if hydrocarbons are present. Complex tests, such as seismic analysis are used in this process.

Once these tests have confirmed that a deposit of methane is present underground, the drilling experts will begin to dig a well down to the area where the gas is believed to be located. According to Prashant Modi, the decision as to whether or not to drill will depend on a number of factors, including the financial viability of the process. Drilling costs a great deal of money, and there is always the risk that the methane deposit will not be of a large enough quantity to warrant the money spent on searching for it.

If however, drilling does take place and this stage proves to be successful, the production process will then begin – this involves the extraction and processing of the methane. Delays often occur at this stage, as there is usually quite a lot of ‘red tape’ to go through in order to gain permission to begin production. Licences must be obtained by the energy company from the government of the country where the deposits are located and Prashant Modi says that this paperwork can take several months (and in some cases, years) to come through.