India seeks offers for new CBM gas bidding round

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India is seeking bids for new areas under a special coal-bed methane (CBM) gas bidding round for 15 areas.

The blocks are located in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Odisha and Chhatisgarh states. Bids must be submitted between 20 January-20 February next year.

The federal government plans to boost domestic production of natural gas and limit imports as it expands the sector's scope. It offered this week 65 geographical areas in the 11th city gas licensing round, which will expand coverage to 86pc of the country and nearly all of its population, according to the oil ministry.

India awarded 17 blocks under the first three CBM rounds, of which eight are under development and the rest are being relinquished. Indian private-sector conglomerates Reliance Industries and Essar are the key developers in India's emerging CBM sector, which has struggled because of a lack of adequate pipeline infrastructure.

India's federal BJP government has focused on building a national gas grid to more than double the share of gas in the country's energy mix to 15pc by 2030 from the current 6pc. State-controlled gas distributor Gail is adding around 15,000km of pipelines in east India to an existing network of around 17,000km to form a national grid that will tie into city gas networks.

India's gas consumption fell by 5pc from a year earlier to 5.35bn m³ in July. Gross domestic production in July was 2.89bn m³ compared with 2.44bn m³ a year earlier. Its LNG imports fell to 2.53bn m³ of pipeline gas equivalent in July from 2.97bn m³ a year earlier, according to preliminary oil ministry data.


By S Dinakar

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