Visitors complain about poor quality CBM block data

Vol 13, PW 8 (24 Sep 09) Exploration & Production

Companies visiting the CBM-IV dataroom at the DGH are unhappy about the quality of data for 10 blocks on offer.

An independent expert who has evaluated this data for Oil India, NTPC and GAIL says the data is insufficient and that most of the good CBM blocks have already been given away in earlier CBM rounds. “Two blocks on offer in this round are recycled,â€‌ he says.

“They were earlier relinquished by ONGC.â€‌ Some claim the DGH has provided â€کgas content’ data for just two or three of the 10 blocks.

Contacted by this report, the DGH admits most data was collected indirectly from coalmines adjacent to the actual area that is being offered (â€کadsorption’). But critics say data collected from coalmines actually in the blocks by drilling core holes (â€کdesorption’) would have been more appropriate.

“Coal samples are crushed and tested in the laboratory (using â€کdesorption’),â€‌ explains a source. Arrow Energy, with three CBM blocks in India, was among the first to visit the dataroom, which opened on May 20 and is likely to remain open till October 11.

Arrow is talking to several companies about bidding jointly for blocks. On January 14 this year, the Australian CBM operator signed a MoU with ONGC, which included an option to bid jointly for CBM blocks.

Newcomers Coastal Energy (about which little is known), Total CBM Solutions, steel producer Monnet Ispat and Energy, Jindal Steel and, surprisingly, Canadian explorer Canoro Resources are among those showing interest in CBM for the first time. Canoro usually bids only for oil and gas blocks but is believed to be interested in the AS-CBM-2008/IV block in Assam.

Total CBM Solutions has said it will not bid, while Jindal Steel has booked a dataroom visit sometime this month. We also learn that a team from the Shell Technology centre in Bangalore has evaluated data on all 10 blocks.

“Shell visited the dataroom during the CBM-III round but did not bid,â€‌ says a source. “It might not bid this time either.


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