(EnergyAsia, May 30) — Indian upstream company Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Ltd (ONGC) said it has set aside a budget of Rs9.5 billion for exploring and developing coal bed methane (CBM) in six blocks in Jharkhand and West Bengal states. The company said this would represent its first commercial production of CBM gas in India.


Production is expected to begin in June 2007, reaching a peak of 784,000 cubic metres of gas per day.


Of the projected expenditure, Rs5.57 billion has been earmarked for the development of CBM fields in the Central Parbatpur area of the Jharia block. Another Rs3.92 billion has been approved for drilling, completion and testing of 22 pilot wells in Jharia, Bokaro and North Karanpura CBM blocks, with completion schedule of 31 months from the date of the signing of a letter of intent.


A CBM block is located within the Jharia coalfield about 25 km east of Bokaro Steel city. The Jharia block occupies a 84.5 sq km area. The block is owned by ONGC (74%) and Coal India Ltd (26%).


ONGC said it would deploy advanced drilling technology for the first time in India following on the success of CBM operators in Australia and the US.