Coal bed methane company Great Eastern Energy Corporation Ltd (GEECL) is getting ready to start work on the Mannargudi block, awarded to it under the CBM round IV, soon after receiving approvals from the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board.

The company, which expects the clearances shortly, proposes to begin drilling the first set of the 50 core holes and 30 pilot production wells this quarter.

This programme, entailing around Rs.100 crore investment over the next few years and involving laboratory tests, is important since it would help the company arrive at a clearer estimate with regard to the quantum of gas in the block, said Prashant Modi, President and Chief Operating Officer of GEECL.

Mr. Modi, who was addressing presspersons here on Thursday, said the Mannargudi asset was attractive with strong potential, spread over 667 sq. km. and the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) estimated 0.98 trillion cubic feet gas in place there. The company, he added, had recently obtained the necessary clearances from the Union Ministry of Environment.

Stating that production of natural gas from coal seams was expected to take some more years and the company ultimately would be investing about Rs.3,500 crore, Mr. Modi said presence of a pipeline infrastructure in the block would help in the marketing.

Primarily, the company would be targeting small and medium enterprises.

GEECL produces natural gas from the Raniganj (South) block in West Bengal. It has drilled 128 wells and producing 11.2 million cubic feet a day.