Coalbed methane extraction, IEACR/76

Author(s): , LL Sloss, Lee B Clarke

Ref: IEACR/76
ISBN: 92-9029-248-2
Published Date: 01/01/1995
No. of Tables: 7
No. of Figures: 18
No. of Pages: 67

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Underground coal mining has been plagued for its entire history by the hazards of gas explosions. Explosions of what the miners called `firedamp' have been the cause of most of the worst disasters in coal mining history. Firedamp's main constituent is methane (CH4), the simplest of the alkane series of hydrocarbons. However, in recent years the methane in coal seams, rather than being seen as a hazard or, at best, a by product of mining, has been considered as a resource in its own right. Methane from unmined coalbeds has been produced on a minor scale since the early 1900s when a rancher in the Powder River Basin (WY, USA) drilled a water well into a coalbed and started heating the buildings with the produced gas. This report reviews the extraction of methane from coalbeds as a resource in its own right and not as a mining hazard, emission or by product. The properties of coal which make coal seams effective methane reservoirs are considered first. The methods by which coalbed methane resources can be estimated are then outlined followed by an inventory of the world's major coalbed methane resources and reserves. The technology of producing coalbed methane and the main methods of completing and stimulating wells are described. Although fairly benign environmentally, there can be problems concerned with the treatment and disposal of the water coproduced with the methane. Despite progress in the technology of coalbed methane production, unexciting economics and legal problems, principally concerning ownership, have acted as constraints on its development. Author(s) Robert M Davidson, Lesley L Sloss, Lee B Clarke Ref IEACR/76 Date January 1995 No. Pages 67 No. Figures No. Tables

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