The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Nine more methane blocks up for grabs

Mangalore, May 14: The government has decided to offer nine coal-bed methane (CBM) blocks next week, in addition to the eight that were farmed out previous year.

Union petroleum minister Ram Naik said an announcement to this effect would be made on May 23.

“Coal-bed methane is a major alternative source of energy and India is the fourth country to harness it.” He refused to disclose the blocks, or the states where they are located.

The minister, who was here to oversee the first consignment of oil arriving from the Sudan oil-field partly owned by ONGC, said the long-term agreement with Iran to buy LNG would go a long way in bolstering India’s energy security. Indian companies will get equity in some of Iran’s fields in exchange for gas purchases.

“Of the five million tonnes of LNG to be imported, 2.5 million tonnes will arrive in the first phase, once the commercial arrangements have been put in place. The remaining 2.5 million tonnes will be brought in the second phase, spread over three to four years,” he said.

Public sector oil companies will meet soon to choose a canalising agent for the LNG imports. A senior ONG executive said the deal with Iran puts both countries in a win-win situation in the aftermath of Iraq war and the new geo-political realities in West Asia.

“Iraq has shown keen interest in a long-term relationship with India and it has already offered some proven fields to ONGC for production,” the official said.

While Iran is insisting on a buy-back, Indian firms are rooting for production sharing, he said.

ONGC, Naik said, would ask the new government of Iraq to honour contracts formalised earlier.

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