Coal India plans coal-to-liquid project with foreign knowhow
Feb 06, 2011
The Hindu Business Line, Kolkata
Kolkata, Feb. 5: Coal India has proposed setting up a coal-to-liquid (CTL) project at Deocha Panchmi block in Birbhum district, West Bengal, with technological support from Sasol of South Africa or Lurgi of Germany.
What is coal-to-liquid?
According to World Coal Association, converting coal-to-liquid fuel allows coal to be used as an alternative to oil. An array of products can be made including ultra-clean petroleum and diesel, as well as synthetic waxes, lubricants, chemical feedstocks andalternative liquid fules such as methanol and dimethylether.
At a preliminary discussion with the Union Coal Minister, Mr Sriprakash Jaiswal, during his visit to South Africa some weeks ago, Sasol had evinced interest in picking a stake in the project.
According to CIL chairman Mr Partha S. Bhattacharyya, despite the high prognostic reserve of 19 billion tonnes of thermal coal, the block was considered unviable for mining due to a 120-metre thick hard rock cover on the coal seam.
“We have proposed the collaboration of National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) in the project to offer technological support in removing the rock cover,” Mr Bhattacharyya told newspersons on the sidelines of a seminar organised by the Kolkata-based Bharat Chamber of Commerce on Thursday.
Later, the Union Coal Minister, Mr Jaiswal, told Business Line that his ministry had previously asked the coal major to explore the prospects for the CTL project and identify a suitable block. “CIL has submitted a preliminary report. We (Coal Ministry) had an initial discussion on the same,” the Minister said.
Interestingly, the prime mover behind the Ministry's initiative appears to be the Trinamool Congress MP from Birbhum and a Bengali actress, Ms Satabdi Roy.
“I have requested the Union Coal Ministry, CIL and NMDC to set up the project on a fast-track basis. We expect the proposed project to usher in industrial activities in this economically backward area. I have also requested the concerned companies to consider opening a school for tribal children and other social welfare measures as part of the project implementation programme,” Ms Roy said over phone.