UK-listed Great Eastern Energy Corporation (GEECL) said it will proceed with a shale gas exploration programme at its Raniganj South acreage in India, following an amendment in the block’s petroleum mining lease (PML).

The company told the London Stock Exchange in a statement on Thursday that it aims to initiate planning “for the initial core wells in the shale [exploration] programme” in the Raniganj block, which lies in the Indian state of West Bengal.

“Based on the results obtained, we will then progress to a development plan to drill pilot production wells,” it noted.

The company has highlighted its plans to invest up to $2 billion in the development of shale gas resources at the block.

GEECL chief executive Prashant Modi described the amendment to its PML by the state government of West Bengal as a “significant milestone” and said the company would now commence its shale programme.

“Given the large potential shale gas resource in our… block of up to 6.63 trillion cubic feet of original gas in place, it provides an exciting and excellent growth opportunity for the company,” he said.

Modi told Upstream that the company has “all clearances are in place including the environmental clearance and as next steps it plans to start engaging with vendors” who could help on progressing its shale gas plans.

“We should drill a few core wells later in the year and then analyse the data,” he added.

GEECL remains upbeat on India’s shale gas potential and gas demand continues to rise in the South Asian nation, leading to higher imports of liquefied natural gas.

The company noted that the installation of a key gas pipeline in the region by state-owned player Gail is progressing well, offering “an ability to deliver additional future production volumes to new customers and markets”.

“The increasing demand for natural gas both in India and globally and the shale programme, all provide support for the overall growth strategy and vision of the company,” it added.

GEECL is among the first producers of coal bed methane in India from its Raniganj block in West Bengal, which covers 210 square kilometres and holds 9.25 Tcf of original gas-in-place, according to the company.