Under the purview of energy, coal bed methane primarily refers to the natural gas or methane recovery from un-mined coal seams and adjacent sandstones. Such methane recovery usually occurs prior to mining, whereas in some cases, coal seams remain un-mined and methane recovery from such sites is known as virgin coal bed methane. Coal bed methane recovery from un-mined coal mines is of strategic importance as absolute or maximum drainage of the methane seam is necessary to avoid the risk of explosion as well as mitigate the emission of methane in the atmosphere from coal mining operations. From the estimated global coal bed methane reserve of about 4,000 Tcf to 5,000 Tcf, about 20% to 25% is recoverable.
The fact that the coal in some sites is at a greater depth, makes it not feasible to extract it on account of the associated safety. This and other environmental and economic considerations serve as the drivers for the global coal bed methane market. Further, the shifting focus towards the use of unconventional energy sources serves as another factor for the growth of global coal bed methane market. The constraints of the coal bed methane are dependent on the accessibility of coal seams. Major constraints of the global coal bed methane market include environmental, regulatory, technical and economic challenges. Among these, environmental constraints include risk associated with greenhouse gas emission. The economical challenges associated with the global coal bed methane market are more prevalent in the early stages of the recovery, when large quantities of water are pumped in with minimal recovery of revenue producing gas. This dewatering and produced water disposal cost is of significant importance for any carbon bed methane project. Although the development cost for the coal bed methane project is relatively lower, it is always a challenge to keep it within minimal range to achieve profitability. The technical constraints of the coal bed methane market depend on the well completion and optimization design to achieve maximum production with optimum number, spacing and location of wells. Also, handling and disposal of water at a minimal cost alongwith the efficient reservoir characterisation are other key technical restraints for global coal bed methane market. Also, coal bed methane requires a low pressure pipeline system which acts as an economical constraint. However, the potential of carbon bed methane to serve as a supplement for conventional natural gas supply and its contribution towards the global energy mix will act as an opportunity for global coal bed methane market. However, the market expansion of the global coal bed methane will be dependent upon the growth of newer technology and development.
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Market segmentation of global coal bed methane can be done on the basis of application, technology and geography. On the basis of application, the global carbon methane market includes commercial application, industrial application, power generation, residential application, and transportation. On the basis of technology, the global carbon bed methane market includes fracturing techniques including hydro-fracturing, proppant-based fracturing and chemical additive based fracturing, exploration, and drilling. Among these, fracturing techniques have been utilised most frequently for coal bed methane recovery. On the basis of geography, the global coal bed methane market includes North America, Latin America, Asia Pacific, Japan, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, and Middle East & Africa. Among these, the largest carbon bed methane resource bases are found in Canada, China, US, Soviet Union and Australia, with Canada accounting for the maximum share followed by the Soviet Union, China, Australia and US. On a broader level, any country with abundant coal reserves and population, and high energy demand will serve as a potential market for carbon bed methane development at a global level. The demand for coal bed methane gas is evident alongwith the demand for natural gas in China and other Asian countries. Associated exploration in the US has been active in the past few years whereas Canada witnessed lower exploration and the development offewer extraction technologies pertaining to global coal bed methane market.
Some of the prominent players of the global coal bed methane market include Santos, Quick Silver Resources Inc, Baker Hughes Incorporated, BG Group, Arrow Energy, Blue Energy Limited, Halliburton, Dart Energy Ltd., Fortune Oil PLC, ConocoPhillips and Metgasco Limited.
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