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.