The Geological Survey of Bangladesh (GSB) has identified the existence of a new coalfield in Naogaon district. The exploration of which will provide fresh impetus to recalibrate the country's energy strategies, according to GSB officials.
"Based on the drilling results, we will start 'Exploratory Drill Hole' at Tilokpur of Naogaon. Right at the moment we are moving our rig from Bogra to Naogaon to start the job," Dr Md Nehal Uddin Director General at Geological Survey of Bangladesh told the daily Observer on Thursday.
"The surface drilling confirmed the existence of a sequence of Gondwana coal-bearing sediments," the GSB chief said.
He said, "We found the new coal seam area here in our feasibility study, although, we have no idea about its reserve right at the moment, but the primary data say that its depth range between 1,000 and 1,200 feet."
The GSB discovered the first coal basin in Barapukuria between 1985 and '88.
According to the GSB, coal exploration drilling collects information that provides an understanding of the in-place coal resource, including the thickness and depth of the coal seams, whether the seams are flat lying or sloping and the presence of any faults that may offset the coal. It is also important to determine the quality of the coal and how the quality varies over the project area, as well as vertically within the coal seam.
The country has five coalfields with a total reserve of 3,565 million tonnes of coal. An expert said, "We can produce 1,782 million tonnes of coal considering 50 per cent recovery which will be equivalent to 40 trillion cubic feet of gas."
The five discovered coal basins with an estimated coal deposit are Jamalganj (1,053 million tonnes), Barapukuria (377 million tonnes), Khalaspir (828 million tonnes), Phulbari (about 500 million tonnes) and Dighipara (about 500 million tonnes). The country's recoverable gas reserve is about 14 Trillion Cubic Feet (TCF), however, Bangladesh now has only one running coalfield at Barapukuria.
The GSB official said they are going to start the Tk 70 to Tk 80 lakh job from its own funds. After analyzing the report it will engage a consultant for designing and the drilling job.
According to the Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry its main aim to feed upcoming coal-fired power projects, having a combined capacity of generating 20,000 MW of electricity, depends on the availability of local and imported coal by 2030.
"We need seven million tonnes of coal per year. This new discovery will help us fulfill our commitment," a top official of the Ministry said.
Dr Nehal Uddin said data will be collected on coal within the Big Metal project area by drilling holes from the surface through the coal seams. The holes will be approximately 6-inches in diameter. Most of the holes will be less than 400 feet in depth with maximum depth of about 650 feet.
"Initially, we will drill one hole and submit our report to the Ministry and take their advice in this regard," he said.