Next CBM round will see nine blocks for auction

Vol 6, PW 23 (29 Jan 03) Exploration & Production

WE WOULDNT be doing justice to either N.

M Gautam or Dr Chandra unless we published complete details of the acreage to be auctioned or the clauses of the MoU that will scare off foreign bidders! So here goes, first the blocks - nine are likely to be offered in the second round, sadly we only have details of the following six, courtesy N.M Gautam: Name of block or coalfield Area Seam thickness Number of seams Type of coal Likely reserves North Karanpura- west 240-sq km 15 to 76 metres 5 High volatile, bituminous 8,000m tonnes South Karanpura - central 65-sq km 1 to 54 metres 44 High volatile, bituminous 4,000m tonnes Sonhat north 780-sq km 1.5 to 8.5 metres 5 Medium/high volatile bituminous A 5,000m tonnes Manuguru Godavari 450-sq km 5.5 to 31 metres 4 High volatile bituminous A-B 6,000m tonnes Wardha east 460-sq km 15 to 24 metres 3 High volatile bituminous B 3,000m tonnes Mannargudi 400-sq km 20 to 80 metres 1 Lignite 18,000m tonnes Examine now the clauses of the MoU that Chandra finds "too sensitive" for public consumption.

Surprise, surprise, they detail a cumbersome approval regime tied up in red tape, with approvals required not only from the oil ministry, but also the coal ministry - enough for the most hardened operator to scurry back to the airport for his flight home! Take note: the CBM blocks will be divided into three categories. 'Category I' sees blocks with coal deposits with a mining lease that sit less than 300 metres underground.

Here, you'll need approval from the coal ministry, then a licence from the oil ministry, followed by an "Access" agreement with both ministries before you can start exploration. 'Category II' blocks include coal deposits less than 300 metres underground without a mining lease.

Here, the oil ministry needs approval from the coal ministry before inviting bids. The chosen operator then signs a "General Agreement" with the coal ministry.

'Category III' blocks are those where coal companies hold no mining lease and where the coal is more than 300 metres depth. Here, the oil ministry "may grant a CBM exploration and exploitation licence with the concurrence" of the coal ministry.

Confused Thats the idea!