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Coalbed Methane (CBM) is an unconventional source of natural gas (primarily methane) adsorbed in coal itself rather than in the pore space of the rock, like most “conventional” gas. The gas is released in response to a drop in pressure in the coal.
India has the fifth largest proven coal reserves in the world and thus holds significant prospects for exploration and exploitation of CBM and increasing the gas production. 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 July 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. So far, Government has awarded 30 CBM blocks under four rounds of bidding to National, Private & Joint Venture Companies. In addition, 2 CBM blocks were awarded on nomination basis and one block through Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) route. These CBM blocks are in the states of West Bengal, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
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. Commercial production of CBM in India has already commenced from Raniganj (South) block in West Bengal operated by Great Eastern Energy Corporation Limited (GEECL), Raniganj (East) operated by Essar Oil & Gas Exploration & Production Limited and Sohagpur (West)operated by Reliance Industries Ltd. To date, most CBM exploration and production activities in India is pursued by domestic Indian companies.
Recently, on 20.08.2018, Government of India has approved the policy to permit exploration and exploitation of unconventional hydrocarbons such as Shale oil/gas, Coal Bed Methane (CBM) etc. under the existing Production Sharing Contracts (PSCs), CBM contracts and Nomination fields to encourage the existing Contractors in the licensed/leased area to unlock the potential of unconventional hydrocarbons in the existing acreages.
Awarded CBM Blocks

Round Signing Year Nos of CBM blocks awarded
Nomination Basis 2001/2003 3
CBM Round-I 2002 5
CBM Round-II 2004 8
CBM Round-III 2006 10
CBM Round-IV 2010 7