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Updated: 10.01.2017

Coal Bed Methane

Methane is a powerful green house gas, as its adverse impacts are felt more intensely due to its shorter residence and higher potency in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.

Methane is associated with coal as a by product of the coal formation process.  It is trapped in coal beds and released during and after mining.  This methane does cause disasters in underground coal mines.

If effectively recovered, coal bed methane associated with coal reserves and emitted during coal mining could be a significant potential source of energy.

Methane capture and its utilization from coal mines is not being undertaken in India due to:

  • Lack of latest technology
  • Lack of expertise and experience
  • Pervasive perception that commercial viability of exploitation and utilization of Methane is doubtful.

This project is a mine-related CMM demonstration project, which is under implementation at Sudamdih and Moonidih mines of BCCL, in the Jharia Coalfield, Jharkhand State of India. The project having a duration of 5 years, was approved by the Govt. of India at an estimated cost Rs. 76.85 crores.

The different collaborators and their contributions for funding the project is given below:

Amount in Rs. Crores (Sept.’98 @ Rs. 42.50 = 1 US $)
            i)    Cash
           ii)    Kind

Part of the revenue cost met out of the income generated from the project on account of utilisation of exploited CBM in the initial time period.

Grand Total
  • Strengthen and increase capacity of CMPDIL, BCCL, ISM, CMRI, Ministry of Coal, Coal India Ltd. and the Ministry of Environment to develop and support mine associated CBM recovery and use projects, through training and experience in the identification, design and implementation of programmes to recover and use coal bed methane (CBM) in a safe, cost effective, and environmentally acceptable manner.
  • Prepare and execute demonstration Projects at the Moonidih and Sudamdih coal mines located in the Jharia coalfield (India) for the recovery and use of mine associated CBM in the Jharia coalfield.  Design and execute CBM resource recovery programmes using three different drilling technologies at two proposed demonstration sites.
  • Use gas recovered from successful execution of the above objectives for vehicle refueling and electric power generation.
  • Develop and adopt action plan for replication of successful aspects of demonstration projects.  Use the CBM clearing house to disseminate information, educate, promote and facilitate inter-action with potential foreign investors. 
The CBM resources as per Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH), Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas (MoP&NG) is tabulated here under :

Table : Prognosticated Resource of CBM

Sl. No
Area of delineated
Prognosticated CBM Resource as per DGH
In trillion
cubic feet
In billion
cubic meter
West Bengal
  • North Raniganj
  • Eastern Raniganj
  • Birbhum






Marginal resource may be in Jharkhand
Sub Total

  • Jharia
  • East & West Bokaro
  • North Karanpura




Sub Total

Madhya Pradesh
  • Sohagpur
  • Sohagpur
  • Satpura



Sub Total

Cambay Basin
11* to 19.4
May not be immediately available because ONGC has active conventional Oil & Gas operations. *As per Advanced Resources Inc.
Grand Total
2980.11 - 3798.11
25.088 – 33.488
710.39 - 948.73

Additional resource is available in block located in south west Raniganj (approximately 200 Sq.Km) allotted to M/S GEECL by FIPB for which data is not available. Coalmine methane resource is not yet accounted.

Brief description of the specific options for utilisation:

Power Generation

CBM can be ideal fuel for co-generation Power plants to bring in higher efficiency and is preferred fuel for new thermal power plant on count of lower capital investment and higher operational efficiency. On the basis of predicted per day recovery from the identified blocks, possible power which can be generated in Jharkhand State is tabulated below :

At the lower end of value, power generation of about  800MW in Jharkhand is possible from the identified blocks.

Auto Fuel in form of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)

CNG is already an established clean and environment friendly fuel. Depending upon the avaibility of CBM, this could be a good end use. Utilization of recovered CBM as fuel in form of CNG for mine dump truck is already part of demonstration project titled “Coalbed Methane Recovery & Commercial Utilization Project” presently under implementation in collaboration with UNDP/GEF at Sudamdih and Moonidih mines of BCCL.

Feed Stock for Fertilizer

M/S Sindri Modernization Plant (SMP), Sindri is utilizing fuel oil as feedstock for its cracker complex. The installed capacity of this plant is 900 tonne per day ammonia and is operational at 80% of capacity during last three years. The CBM produced from  Jharia, Bokaro coalfields can be utilized at Sindri, which will economise the operations.

Fuel for Industrial Use

It may provide an economical fuel for a number of industries like cement plant, refractories, Rolling mills etc. in Dhanbad, Bokaro, Palamu regions in view of the superior combustion properties of CBM. According to survey carried out by MECON (I) Ltd, there is demand of 5000000 Nm3 of natural gas/CBM in the Jharkhand state alone for industrial purposes.

Use of CBM at Steel Plants

Blast furnace operations use metallurgical coke to produce most of the energy required to melt the iron ore to iron. Since coke is becoming increasingly expensive in the U.S., the steel industry is seeking low-capital options that reduce coke consumption, increase productivity and reduce operating costs. All blast furnaces in North America inject some type of supplement fuel, such as natural gas, coke oven gas, oils and tars, or coal to form additional carbon monoxide and hydrogen for combustion, and chemical reduction of iron-bearing materials into molten iron. Of these fuels, natural gas and pulverised coal are the most widely accepted for injection. Recent full-scale tests have shown that injecting natural gas into blast furnaces at the rate of 195.4 cubic meters per ton of hot metal can reduce coke consumption by 30% , and can increase iron-making capacity by 40%. Coal mine methane provides the same benefits as conventional natural gas, and could easily be substituted for, or mixed with, natural gas for blast furnace use as long as it meets gas quality requirements (low sulfur content and at least 94% methane). Injection of CBM in blast furnace of Bokaro Steel Plant will improve performance and can enhance its productivity.

CMM use in Methanol Production

Methanol is a key component of many products, including MTBE (used in reformulated gasoline), methanol and gasoline blends (such as M 85 for flexible fuel vehicles), formaldehyde resins (widely used in the housing industry), and acetic acid, a major raw material in the chemical industry. Most of the world’s production of methanol uses natural gas as a feedstock, which is also the most important cost component. No methanol producers have coalbed methane, but it is a potential alternative feedstock to fuel large methanol plants in areas that mine gassy coal. Smaller (11.4-15 million liters/year) mobile methanol plants used at off-shore oil rigs may be a potential option for use at coal mines. Gas quality should be at least 89% methane, up to 1% oxygen and up to 10% carbon dioxide.

Utilisation of Coal Mine Methane

Besides above utilization prospects, linkages of coal mine methane (CMM) produced as a result of degasification of coal mines in comparatively in smaller quantity through cross country pipe lines may not be economical and therefore can be utilized at mine sites itself.

Three strategies for developing the CBM resource associated with mining are proposed

  • To drill ahead of mining by a number of years to pre-drain the gas.
  • To recover Methane from surface by vertical drilling in gob areas.
  • To recover gas in in-seam long hole horizontal drilling in seams and strata.