Coalbed Methane (CBM), an unconventional source of natural gas is now considered as an alternative source for augmenting India’s energy resource. India has the fifth largest proven coal reserves in the world and thus holds significant prospects for exploration and exploitation of CBM. The prognosticated CBM resources in the country are about 92 TCF (2600 BCM) in 12 states of India. In order to harness CBM potential in the country, the Government of India formulated CBM policy in 1997 wherein CBM being Natural Gas is explored and exploited under the provisions of OIL Fields (Regulation & Development) Act 1948 (ORD Act 1948) and Petroleum & Natural Gas Rules 1959 (P&NG Rules 1959) administered by Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas (MOP&NG).
CBM blocks were carved out by DGH in close interaction with Ministry of Coal (MoC) &Central Mine Planning and Design Institute (CMPDI), Ranchi. Under the CBM policy, till date, four rounds of CBM bidding rounds have been implemented by MOP&NG, resulting in award of 33 CBM blocks [including 2 blocks on Nomination and 1 block through Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) route] which covers 16,613 sq.km out of the total available coal bearing areas for CBM exploration of 26,000 sq.km. To date, most CBM exploration and production activities in India is pursued by domestic Indian companies. Total prognosticated CBM resource for awarded 33 CBM blocks, is about 62.4 TCF (1767 BCM), of which, so far, 9.9 TCF (280.34 BCM) has been established as Gas in Place (GIP).
The Gondwana sediments of eastern India host the bulk of India’s coal reserves and all the current CBM producing blocks. The vast majority of the best prospective areas for CBM development are in eastern India, situated in Damodar Koel valley and Son valley. CBM projects exist in Raniganj South, Raniganj East and Raniganj North areas in the Raniganj coalfield, the Parbatpur block in Jharia coalfield and the East and west Bokaro coalfields. Son valley includes the Sonhat North and Sohagpur East and West blocks. Currently, commercial production has commenced from Raniganj South CBM block operated by M/s. GEECL since July 2007.
Current CBM production (March 2015) is around 0.77 MMSCMD from 5 CBM blocks which includes test gas production from 4 CBM blocks and commercial production from 1 CBM block. Seven more CBM blocks are expected to start commercial production in near future. The total CBM production is expected to be around 4MMSCMD by end of 12th plan as per XII plan document.