Australia’s Linc Energy Ltd. has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Shiv-Vani Oil & Gas Exploration Services Ltd. to establish joint ventures for the development of underground coal gasification (UCG) and coal-to-liquids (CTL) projects in India. Shiv-Vani is the single largest oil and gas upstream services provider in India.
Linc Energy is developing a CTL project in Australia (the Chinchilla project) that combines Syntroleum’s air-based Fischer-Tropsch technology with the syngas produced by underground coal gasification (UCG) technology. (Earlier post.)
Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) is a process through which coal is converted in-situ to a syngas that can be used as a fuel for power generation or as a chemical feedstock—e.g., to feed into a Fischer-Tropsch process for the generation of synthetic diesel.
The UCG syngas, which undergoes sulfur removal and additional conditioning at the surface, is similar to syngas obtained from conventional surface coal gasification systems, but production is achieved at a much lower cost.
UCG has been used in the Former Soviet Union for some 40 years. Linc Energy has secured a co-operation agreement with the Skochinsky Institute of Mining in Moscow, one of the largest research and development centers in coal mining and a pioneer of underground coal gasification (UCG) technology. The Skochinsky Institute had also earlier signed a contract with India’s ONGC to develop UCG gasfields in India.
(Linc earlier had been obtaining UCG services from Ergo Exergy—that arrangement terminated in November 2006.)
The immediate focus of the Shiv Vani MOU is to ensure the joint venture gains and develops coal blocks that the Indian government is releasing later this year for the specific purpose of UCG development. Shiv Vani Director Padam Singhee noted that the Indian company feels that the UCG technology developed at Chinchilla coalfields, Queensland, by Linc Energy is suitable for the untapped coal reserves in India.
Linc said it has gasified approximately 32,000 metric tons of coal in its pilot burn for the Chinchilla project with a high availability of product gas for 30 months from December 1999 through to mid-2002. The company’s UCG-to-CTL demonstration plant at Chinchilla is scheduled to open in the third quarter 2007.
The Indian coal ministry has finalized the guidelines for allocation of coal and lignite blocks for the UCG projects. The government hopes to offer blocks for UCG and coal liquefaction by September 2007.