Oil ministry chalks out strategy for simultaneous exploration

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New Delhi, Nov 9 (UNI) The Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry has drafted a strategy for simultaneous operations for Coal Bed Methane (CBM) and oil and gas exploration in the same area that could be offered through transparent international competitive bidding system.

A Ministry source told UNI that the scope for such simultaneous operations exists in Gujarat's Cambay basin, Barmer Basin in Rajasthan and Cauvery in Tamil Nadu where both CBM and Natural gas occur in the same area.

However, certain broad guidelines and procedures may have to be followed to undertake such operations.

In case, CBM and oil and natural gas formations are separated by lithological columns of sufficient thickness exploration and exploitation of CBM and natural gas from the same area could be carried out simultaneously by two different operators or by the same operator through drilling separate sets of wells.

There should be a minimum distance betwen CMB and Petroleum and Natural Gas wells to avoid disputes or litigations and with regard to safety and environmental obligation.

The lease agreement has to clearly define vertical geological horizon for the two fossil fuels and minimum distance between such wells have to be stipulated.

Agreement betwen parties is required for sitting of CBM/Oil and Natural Gas wells and laying of pipelines and other installations in the same area.

Since CBM is treated as natural gas its operations must be governed under the jurisdiction of Petroleum Ministry, the source said.

Although it is preferable that the same operator carries out both the operations where vertical separation between the two sites is less than 100 metres, the issue of operatorship has to be examined on case to case basis and depending upon the sub-surface geological conditions.

During the bidding in case different operator wins the bid, joint interaction agreement needs to be evolved.

Cases where geological conditions are such that CBM and oil and gas are in very close vicinity in the vertical geological sequence and different operators are not possible, the exisiting operator may be given the right for first refusal in the bidding process. Another option could be to award the block on nomination basis.

To enable the proposal move forward required amendments need to be carried out in the Oil Mines Regulation, 1984 Act.

The Petroleum Ministry has sought comments from the Ministries of Coal, Labour, Director General of Mines Safety and Central Mine Planning&Designing Institute Ltd (CMPDIL).

UNI

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