British exploration major Cairn Energy Search Ltd (CESL) is set to begin a survey in Bihar's Ganges basin for oil and natural gas on Monday afternoon, the first such exploration in the state.
The CESL and its sister concern, Cairn Energy Search India Ltd, which has been given a seven-year license, will begin the survey in the basin, which comprises 13 districts spread over 15,500 sq km.
"The much-awaited work for exploration would formally start with launching of an aeromagnetic survey by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar," Energy Minister Vijendra Prasad Yadav said on Monday.
A specially designed and high-tech airplane was hired from Canada on Sunday for conducting the survey, sources in the state mines and geological department said.
Official sources said the exploration project had got clearance from all central ministries, including defence, petroleum, civil aviation and atomic energy as well as the Geological Survey of India.
According to independent estimates, reserves in the Ganges basin, known locally as Purina basin, could be as high as 465 million tonnes of crude and natural gas.
Experts say the reserves can be tapped after drilling up to 4,400 metres. The government will get 10 per cent royalty for every tonne extracted. The Edinburgh-based exploration firm had proposed the project three years ago but it got delayed due to various reasons.