Prashant Modi discusses the benefits of CBM for coal mining

Prashant Modi - Coal miningCoal mining by Prashant Modi

Prashant Modi, CEO of Great Eastern Energy, says that the government’s policy on coal bed methane is quite encouraging in its simplicity, based primarily on royalty contracts. However, Modi believes that more initiatives will be needed in order to accelerate the pace of production of CBM.

Some of the current policies which, Modi says, are applicable to CBM are almost exactly the same as those for traditional oil and gas, in that they are purely theoretical. Because of this, Prashant Modi says that what really need to be done is to use the practices from CBM producers in Australia, Canada and the USA as examples, and alter the existing CBM policies in India so that they reflect these countries’ policies, which have already proven to be successful.

Overall though, Prashant Modi says that he is relatively happy with the government’s CBM policies, and its enthusiasm for this energy source. Once CBM production is in full swing, Modi days, it will not only serve as a cleaner source of energy for India, but will also make the process of mining safer, as CBM production obviously draws the methane out of the mines. In China, several thousand people die each, as the result of explosions caused by methane gas, despite expensive ventilation systems being used in the mines. These ventilation systems, Prashant Modi says, are also supplemented with a degasification system, made up of gas pipelines and boreholes, all of which could be eliminated if CBM production were carried out before mining.

There are, according to Prashant Modi, two main benefits to carrying out CBM before mining; firstly, as mentioned previously, there will be little or no risk of explosions and subsequent fatalities. Secondly, when methane escapes into the atmosphere during mining, in its raw state, it is approximately twenty times more dangerous than carbon dioxide. However, if this methane is extracted before mining is carried out, the gas will not enter the atmosphere and will instead be manufactured and used as a clean fuel, thus preventing environmental pollution.

Prashant Modi – Challenges GEECL has overcome

Prashant Modi - Great Eastern EnergyCEO of Great Eastern Energy by Prashant Modi

Whilst CBM drilling has become a resounding success in the last five years, Prashant Modi explains that it has not been smooth sailing for his company, Great Eastern Energy Corporation, as there was a steep learning curve and quite a few serious challenges which had to be dealt with. In this article, Modi describes some of the main issues which GEECL met with during their journey to becoming one of India’s primary CBM drilling companies.

With no precedence for the drilling of coal bed methane in India, Prashant Modi says that all of the inevitable technology issues had to be solved by Great Eastern Energy Corporation. Today, Modi explains that they only use equipment made by Australian and American manufacturers, as these are the best in the CBM industry. However, this technology doesn’t come cheap, and one of the primary reasons for GEECL’s success, Prashant Modi says, has been its willingness to invest in this essential technology, when other energy companies chose not to.

Another key challenge has been the heterogeneous nature of coal; Prashant Modi says that their company may find gas in one coal seam, yet discover no gas just three or four hundred metres away.  Modi gives the example of the forty wells which were dug to the north of the River Damodar; just a couple of hundred metres, to the south of the river, the coal block held virtually no gas.

Reaching out to potential consumers and creating a demand for coal bed methane has also proven to be difficult. The vast majority of the CBM blocks in India, including those in Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Odisha, are located in areas where there are no existing networks of pipelines. Most trunk pipelines, Prashant Modi says, are situated in Western India are of no use to producers of CBM. According to Modi, the only way in which a CBM producer could sell gas, is through investing their own money into the development of a pipeline network, which is precisely what GEECL has done, digging more than eighty kilometres of pipeline so as to be able to provide its customers with the gas they need.