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Coal Bed Methane (CBM), wells produce gas from the coal seams which act as both the source
and the reservoir. Natural gas can be sourced by thermogenic alterations of coal or by biogenic
action of indigenous microbes on the coal. There are some horizontally drilled CBM wells and
some that receive hydraulic fracturing treatments. However, wells frequently produce water as
well as natural gas. Some CBM reservoirs are also underground sources of drinking water and, as
such, there are restrictions on hydraulic fracturing. CBM reservoirs are mostly shallow as the coal
matrix does not have the strength to maintain porosity under the pressure of significant overburden
thickness. Coalbed methane (CBM or coal-bed methane), coalbed gas, coal seam gas (CSG), or
coal-mine methane (CMM) is a form of natural gas extracted from coal beds. In recent decades it
has become an important source of energy in United States, Canada, Australia, and other countries.
The term refers to methane adsorbed into the solid matrix of the coal. It is called 'sweet gas' because
of its lack of hydrogen sulphide. The presence of this gas is well known from its occurrence in
underground coal mining, where it presents a serious safety risk. Coalbed methane is distinct from
typical sandstone or other conventional gas reservoir, as the methane is stored within the coal by
a process called adsorption. The methane is in a near-liquid state, lining the inside of pores within
the coal (called the matrix). The open fractures in the coal (called the cleats) can also contain free
gas or can be saturated with water. Unlike much natural gas from conventional reservoirs, coalbed
methane contains very little heavier hydrocarbons such as propane or butane, and no natural-gas
condensate. It often contains up to a few percent carbon dioxide. Some coal seams, such as those
in certain areas of the Illawarra Coal Measures in NSW, Australia, contain little methane, with the
predominant coal seam gas being carbon dioxide.

2. History
Coalbed methane grew out of venting methane from coal seams. Some coal beds have long been
known to be "gassy," and as a safety measure, boreholes were drilled into the seams from the
surface, and the methane allowed venting before mining. Coalbed methane as a natural-gas
resource received a major push from the US federal government in the late 1970s. Federal price
controls were discouraging natural gas drilling by keeping natural gas prices below market levels;
at the same time, the government wanted to encourage more gas production. The US Department
of Energy funded research into a number of unconventional gas sources, including coalbed
methane. Coalbed methane was exempted from federal price controls, and was also given a federal
tax credit. In Australia, commercial extraction of coal seam gas began in 1996 in the Bowen Basin
of Queensland. CBM, an emerging industry, developed over a span of 5 years after 5 years of
research and pilot projects. Initial process improvements came rapidly to bolster its success where
these innovations improved production, economics, reservoir management, and drilling. The
primary catalyst for CBM development was possibly a federal tax credit that overcame the inertia
of starting a new industry. Employed in the coalfields have been oilfield techniques, sometimes
modified and improved. In many ways the CBM process has merged technologies from the oil
industry and the coal industry. For example, during the preceding generation, methane was
produced for local use from wells drilled into coals, but it took thefracturing of those coals and
their dewatering, along with other oilfield technology, to increase production rates to commercial
levels. Research generated by the activity delved into coal properties and associated phenomena
on a scale not undertaken before for coal. Future technical advancements may turn properties that
are now marginal into successful commercial ventures.

3. Coal Bed Methane (CBM)

Coal Bed Methane (CBM) refers to the methane gas that occurs within coal beds lying
underground. Methane is produced during coalification process that transforms plant materials into
coal in response to burial. The methane thus produced is stored mostly about 90% as adsorbed gas
held by molecular attraction on coal particles. It occurs in less amount about 10% as free gas in
micropores in coal and as dissolved gas in water within pores.

4. Geological Structure
Coal occurs in a typical half-graben basin
within the Archaean basement. The
structural information on the coal deposit is
based on seismic and borehole data. The
Jamalganj coal basin is bounded to the north
by an eastwest trending fault known as
BuzrakDurgadah boundary fault (Figure
1). Further to the south, another eastwest
down to the south fault is located between
wells EDH-9 and EDH-11. Further south, a
down to the north fault is present, in between
wells EDH-10 and EDH-14. The western,
eastern, and southern limits of the Jamalganj
coal deposit are not known adequately at this
stage. However, based on the regional
geology of the region, the coal measure is
expected to continue to the east and possibly
to the west of the drilled area. The coal
seams very likely extend further south at
somewhat greater depth. The coal deposit
has been affected by several faults, but there
is no evidence of any folding. The
Gondwana rocks generally dip 510 degrees
but at places dips up to 15 degrees are
recorded. More gentle dips of 25 degrees
are observed in boreholes EDH-10 and
EDH-11. The seismic reflection data
indicates that the rock horizons have a
regional southeast dip. Figure 2 shows a
general contour map of the depth to top of
coal seam III.

Figure 1.Geologic structure of Jamalganj coalfield (after

Fried Krupp Rohstaffe, 1966 and Holloway & Baily, 1995).

5. Geology of Jamalganj Coal Field

Jamalganj coalfield was discovered in 1962
by the UN-sponsored coal exploration
programme in this country, whereby 10
wells (both open hole and core drill wells)
were drilled in the JamalganjPaharpur area
of Jaipurhat district. Coal seams were
encountered in 9 out of 10 wells. The coal
occurs in Gondwana succession within the
depth range of 640 to 1158 m. After the
discovery, consultants including Fried
Krupp Roshtaffe, Powell Duffryn Technical
International Ltd. conducted feasibility
studies for mining of this coal and
recommended that mining Jamalganj is
technically feasible. However, no mining
project was implemented due to the depth of
the coal seams. Finally, the idea of mining
coal from Jamalganj field was abandoned
when a large deposit of coal was discovered
at shallower depth of 116 m below the
ground surface at Barapukuria basin in
Dinajpur district in 1985.
Figure 2.Gondwana coalfields of Bangladesh

6. Stratigraphic Succession
The stratigraphic succession of the Jamalganj coal basin is shown in Figure 3, in which Gondwana
group succession is overlain by a Tertiary succession, with a major unconformity in between the
two. The coal occurs within the GondwanaGroup. No well has reached the base of the Gondwana
sequence and the Archaean basement below. Thus the total thickness of Gondwana rocks in the
Jamalganj coal basin is not known. A maximum of 577 m of Gondwana rocks has been drilled in
EDH-6 well. The Gondwana Group consists predominantly of hard, compacted, low-permeability
arkosiccoarse to medium-grained sandstones with coal layers and few shales and conglomerate.
The group is divided into two parts, i.e. Lower Gondwana and Upper Gondwana. The Lower
Gondwana of Permian age is represented by a 305 m thick sequence consisting predominantly of
feldspaticsandstones, with several coal seams and minor carbonaceous shales and siltstones. The
sandstones are hard, compact, and kaolinitic. This unit has been tentatively correlated with the
Raniganj Formation (Permian) of eastern Indian coalfields. However, Robertson Research
International Ltd. suggested that this unit is equivalent to BarakarFormation (Permian), based
largely on the thickness of the coal seams at Jamalganj coalfield, which are much thicker than
those of the Raniganj Formation of India. Seven major coal seams are encountered in the Lower
Gondwanasequence with an average cumulative thickness of 64 m. The individual coal seams

show considerable thickness variation from well to well and these occur at depths ranging from
640 to 1158 m below surface. The Upper Gondwanaunit is believed to be Lower Triassic age and
consists of approximately 250 m of medium to coarse-grained feldspaticsandstone interbedded
with microbrecciated conglomerate and minor siltstones. The Jurassic volcanic Rajmahal Trap
Formation encountered in the Kuchma coal basin is absent in the Jamalganjcoalfield. The
Gondwana Group here is overlain with a major unconformity by the PaleoceneEocene Jaintia
Group (185 m). The Jaintia Group is divided from base upward into Cherra Formation (104 m)
consisting predominantly of sandstones with subordinate shale, Sylhet Limestone Formation (38
m) with predominant fossiliferous limestone and Kopili Formation (42 m) with predominantly
shale lithologies. The Jaintia Group is overlain by OligoceneMiocene Jamalganj Formation
consisting of about 400 m of alternating sandstone, shale, and siltstone. This is succeeded by about
270 m of Pliocene DupiTila Formation of predominantly rather loosely consolidated medium to
coarse grained sandstone with minor shaleclay lithofacies. The above is overlain by recent
alluvium with sand, silt, and clay.


In assessing the prospectivity of CBM development, the following are among the important factors
to be considered: methane content of coal; coal rank; coal permeability; thickness of coal seams;
and depth of burial of coal. Generally, high rank coal with thickness in excess of 30 m, burial depth
of more than 600 m, gas content of 6 to 7 m3/ton, permeability greater than 1.5 md, and an in-situ
reserve of more than 1 billion tons of coal is considered reasonably viable for developing CBM
prospect in a Gondwana coal basin. With the background information on the geologic occurrence
of Jamalganj coal described in the previous section, this may now be assessed as to its CBM

8. Coal Bed Methane Prospect of Jamalganj Coalfield, Bangladesh

Five major Gondwana coalfields have been discovered in the half-graben type basins in the
subsurface in the Precambrian platform area of northwest Bangladesh. The Jamalganj coalfield,
with an estimated reserve of about 1053 million tons of coal, has seven coal seams in the depth
range between 640 to 1158 m below the ground surface. Compared to the other coalfields of the
area, with coal occurring at 150 to 500 m depth, Jamalganj coal is considered to be too deep to be
exploited by conventional underground or open pit mining. Instead, developing coal bed methane
from Jamalganj coalfield may be considered as a viable option for its exploitation.The positive
factors of Jamalganj coal bed methane development include high net thickness of coal with at least
one very thick (40 m+) and widely developed seam, coal seam burial depth within optimum range,
large coal reserves, indication of significant gas content from drilling data, and poor permeability
in the rocks above and surrounding the coal layers. The thickest seam III can be a primary target
for CBM development especially where it combines with seam IV in the eastern part of the
coalfield. However, there are a number of unknown factors like actual gas content of coal, the coal
permeability, and in-seam pressure that need to be evaluated before deciding the viability of the
project. An initial attempt to collect these baseline data should include drilling test well or wells
in the primary target area where seam III is most thick and widely developed.

9. Utilization
Coal Bed Methane generally provides the highest concentration of methane recoverable from coal
seams due to the lack of exposure to air from mining. Concentration levels of methane recovered
via these techniques can often exceed 95%, making the gas suitable for use as a direct replacement
for conventional natural gas in pipeline networks. This gas can then be pumped directly to homes
and businesses for use in cooking and heating.Natural gas pipeline networks need to be easily
accessible for the addition of the coal seam methane to be economic and practical. Existing pipeline
networks can be extended to reach CBM projects if the distances to be covered and geographical
features make the project economically feasible. The high quality of the gas recovered from
unmined coal seams also renders it suitable for replacing or supplementing conventional natural
gas in power generation systems, such as gas turbines and gas engine systems. This utilization
option increases in viability the closer the generator is located to the methane recovery site.
Recovered CBM can also be stored in gas canisters for local distribution as a domestic fuel and is
also storable in compressed liquid form for utilization as vehicle fuel. The largest CBM resource
bases lie in the former Soviet Union, Canada, China, Australia and the United States. However,
much of the worlds CBM recovery potential remains untapped. In 2006 it was estimated that of
global resources totalling 143 trillion cubic metres, only 1 trillion cubic metres was actually
recovered from reserves. This is due to a lack of incentive in some countries to fully exploit the
resource base, particularly in parts of the former Soviet Union where conventional natural gas is

The United States has demonstrated a strong drive to utilise its resource base. Exploitation in
Canada has been somewhat slower than in the US, but is expected to increase with the development
of new exploration and extraction technologies. The potential for supplementing significant
proportions of natural gas supply with CBM is also growing in China, where demand for natural
gas is set to outstrip domestic production by 2010 and CBM offers an alternative supply.

10. Measuring the gas content of coal

Coal bed gas content measurements are commonly used in mine safety as well as coal bed methane
resource assessment and recovery applications. Gas content determination techniques generally
fall into two categories:
Direct methods which actually measure the volume of methane released from a coal sample
sealed into a desorption canister and
Indirect methods based on empirical correlations, or laboratory derived sorption isotherm
methane storage capacity data. Laboratory sorption isotherms provide information about the
storage capacity of a coal sampleif these are measured under geological realistic pressure and
temperature conditions.
Thus, the maximum gas content which can be expected for methane recovery can be assessed from
such laboratory isotherm measurements. The total gas content by the indirect methods is based on
the empirical formula given by Meinser and Kim. The quantity of gas is determined by Meisner
and Kim formula with using the moisture content, volatile content, volume of methane adsorbed
on wet coal, fixed carbon, thickness of coal and temperature. Meinser (1984) observed that the
amount of methane gas (VCH4) is related to volatile matter (daf).
V(CH4)= 325.6 log (V.M/37.8)
Estimation of in situ gas content of the coal will be evaluated by using Kim's (Kim 1977) equation
V = (100 M A) /100 [ Vw /Vd ] [K(P)N - (b T)]
V = Volume of methane gas adsorbed (cc/g)
M = Moisture content (%)
A = Ash content (%).
Vw/Vd = 1/(0.25 M + 1)
Vw = Volume of gas adsorbed on wet coal (cc/g)
Vd = Volume of gas adsorbed on dry coal (cc/g)
The values of K and N depend on the rank of the coal and can be expressed in terms of ratio of
fixed carbon (FC) to Volatile matter (VM)
K = 0.8 (F.C /V.M) + 5.6 Where
F.C = Fixed carbon (%)
VM = Volatile matter (%)
N = Composition of coal (for most bituminous coals, N = (0.39 - 0.013 K)
b =Adsorption constant due to temperature change (cc/g/C).
T = Geothermal Gradient (h/ 100) + To
T = Temperature at given depth
To = Ground temperature
h = Depth (m)
Estimation of methane content in coal seams by Karol curve. In the absence measured methane
content of coal beds, and production data from coal bed methane wells, gas content can be
estimated using the Eddy curve. Eddy and others constructed a series of curves estimating
maximum producible methane content of coal bed as a function of depth and rank.
The estimation of methane content of a coal bed is determined from the Eddy curve by locating
the average depth of each coal seam on the depth axis. A normal line is extended upward from the
depth axis (feet) to intersect the specific coal rank curves.

11. Basic principles

Methane adsorbed into a solid coal matrix (coal mackerels) will be released if the coal seam is
depressurized. Methane may be extracted by drilling wells into the coal seam. The goal is to
decrease the water pressure by pumping water from the well. The decrease in pressure allows
methane to desorb from the coal and flow as a gas up the well to the surface. Methane is then
compressed and piped to market. The objective is to avoid putting methane into the water line, but
allow it to flow up the backside of the well (casing) to the compressor station. If the water level is
pumped too low during dewatering, methane may travel up the tubing into the water line causing
the well to become "gassy". Although methane may be recovered in a water-gas separator at the
surface, pumping water and gas is inefficient and can cause pump wear and breakdown.

12. Reserves
Jamalganj coalfield has a total coal reserve of 1054 million tons as calculated by Fried Krupp. This
reserve estimate is based on the assumption that the thickness of coal seams found in EDH-10
represent average values and the coal has an average specific gravity of 1.49 g/cm2. Seam I has
been ignored in this reserve estimate due to its poor development. The breakdown of the above
reserve is as follows: seam II: 39.5 million tons; seam III: 526.8 million tons; seam IV: 32.4 million
tons; seam V: 30 million tons; seam VI: 50.8 million tons; and seam VII: 374.4 million tons. It is
evident from the above that coal seam III contains about 50 % of the total reserve, while seam VII
contains 35 % of the total reserve in the Jamalganj coalfield.

13. Environmental impacts

As with all carbon based fossil fuels, burning coalbed methane releases carbon dioxide (CO2) into
the atmosphere and contributes to global warming. CBM production also involves leaks of fugitive
methane into the atmosphere. Methane is rated as having 72 times more effect on global warming
than CO2. over 25 years, Analysis of life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions of energy sources
indicates that generating electricity from CBM, as with conventional natural gas, has less than half
the greenhouse gas effect of coal. In the United States, methane escaping from coal during mining
amounts to 10 percent of total methane emissions. Recovery of coal mine methane in advance of
mining is seen as a major opportunity to reduce methane emissions.

CBM wells are connected by a network of roads, pipelines, and compressor stations. Over time,
wells may be spaced more closely in order to extract the remaining methane. Decommissioning
wells can cause some problems, as shown when a $75,000 fine was levied when "a blockage leaked
cancer-causing chemical benzene" into bores near Kingaroy, Queensland.

Produced water
The produced water brought to the surface as a byproduct of gas extraction varies greatly in quality
from area to area, but may contain undesirable concentrations of dissolved substances such as salts,
naturally present chemicals, heavy metals and radionuclides.

Powder River Basin

Not all coalbed methane produced water is saline or otherwise undesirable. Water from coalbed
methane wells in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming, US, commonly meets federal drinking
water standards, and is widely used in the area to water livestock. Its use for irrigation is limited
by its relatively high sodium adsorption ratio.

Depending on aquifer connectivity, water withdrawal may depress aquifers over a large area and
affect groundwater flows. In Australia, the CBM industry estimates extraction of 126,000 million
litres (3.31010 US gallons) to 280,000 million litres (7.41010 US gallons) of groundwater per
year; while the National Water Commission estimates extraction above 300,000 million litres
(7.91010 US gallons) a year.

14. Conclusion
The profitability of a coalbed methane (CBM) project is highly dependent on factors of seam
thickness, gas content, and permeability. Its economics are influenced by other variables, such as
depth, water disposal volumes, access to market, and gas price. Well tests, logging, and core
analyses add to the costs in regions without prior coal mining or core analyses of the coal.
The positive factors for Jamalganj coal bed methane development include large coal reserves,
above-average thickness of the coal seams, suitable burial depths of coal seams, indication of
significant gas content, and also the low permeability of the rocks above and surrounding the coalbearing layers. The main advantage of Jamalganj coal as a CBM prospect is a high net coal
thickness and the presence of at least one very thick seam (seam III). Seam III can certainly be a
primary target for CBM development, especially where it combines with seam IV, i.e., in the
eastern part of the coalfield.