Express News Service
Posted: Oct 25, 2008 at 0307 hrs IST
Kolkata, October 24 The Great Eastern Energy Corporation Limited (GEECL), the first commercial producer of coal bed methane (CBM) in India, has opened its seventh CBM-based compressed natural gas (CNG) station at Neamatpur in Asansol on Friday.
The company has already signed a franchisee agreement for supply and retail of CNG through Indian Oil Corporation’s (IOC) petrol pumps in Asansol, Durgapur, Raniganj and other cities across the state. Overall there are seven CNG stations in the area, of which, four are the “mother stations” and three are the “daughter stations”.
Coal bed methane is considered to be of better quality than the CNG available in the market. It has 96 per cent methane, contains no sulphur and has very little carbon dioxide, while the natural gas contains about seven per cent carbon dioxide.
While automobile users will have access to clean fuel in the region, for users in Kolkata, there seems to be a long wait ahead. The company has spoken to the state government about extending CNG supply to Kolkata, which will be implemented gradually. It estimates a CNG demand exceeding 40 to 50 million cubic feet per day in Kolkata alone.
“We have begun with Asansol and Raniganj. Later, we will gradually extend it to Durgapur, Burdwan and Dankuni. It will take at least six months to extend the supply to Durgapur. Kolkata might take longer and as of now, opening a supply station in the immediate future is ruled out,” said Prashant Modi, president and chief operating officer of GEECL. Given the huge market for CNG in Kolkata, it is difficult to match supply with demand. Moreover, supply to Kolkata requires pipelines to be laid which could take some time. “Supply by truck-mounted cascades is not feasible for Kolkata, as trucks are not allowed into the city. Pipelines are the only option,” added Modi.
State Transport minister Subhas Chakraborty on Thursday had said that all autorickshaws, running on petrol or diesel, will be off the roads after December 31. Only autos fuelled by LPG will be allowed in Kolkata and other parts of the state.