Extracting gas from Jamalganj coal-field with Coal Bed Methane (CBM)
extraction method seems to be impractical and uncertain claims the
consultant authority of the field. The study report prepared by the
Indian consulting firm Mining Associates Pvt. Ltd. (MAPL) says the
coal mine has no prospect of harnessing any CBM.
CBM is the methane gas that occurs within the coal beds lying
underground. Harnessing the methane from coal bed requires special
measures and procedures and it is called CBM extraction method. CBM is
considered a non-conventional type of natural gas although it is
virtually identical to conventional natural gas produced worldwide.
Coal was discovered in Jamalganj Upazila of Jaypurhat district in 1962
at depths of between 640 and 1,150m below the surface. The total
reserve of coal in the field is estimated at 1,053 million tons and
considering this amount of reserves, Jamalganj is the largest
coalfield so far found in Bangladesh.
On June 21 last year, state-owned Petrobangla appointed MAPL to assess
the methane reserve in the coal mine. The company started its quest on
January 5th this year. MAPL drilled three wells at different locations
of the coal field to examine the prospects for extracting methane gas.
Recently MAPL submitted its final report on Jamalganj and gave a
presentation at the power, energy and mineral resources ministry. The
report says that the field has extremely low reserves of CBM and
extracting it would be financially unviable.
Mineral resources division sources informed that, MAPL submitted their
assessment report in the last week in the presence of Nazim Uddin
Choudhury, the Mineral Resources Division secretary and Istiaque
Ahmed, the Chairman of Petrobangla.
MAPL recommended for conducting further feasibility studies to explore
potentials for underground mining in the coal field.
Istiaque Ahmed, however, said that the government may not take any
further move to extract coal or other hydrocarbon resources due to
high depth of coal.
Compared to other coalfields in Bangladesh, with coal occurring at 150
to 500m depth, Jamalganj coal is considered to be too deep to be
exploited by conventional underground or open pit mining. It was
believed that, the only economically feasible way to exploit the field
is to harness the CBM at least.
However, CBM extraction is now proven to be commercially viable. As of
now, the majority of the large-scale commercial production centers are
located in the USA and these are being developed in some other
countries as well, mainly Australia, Poland, China, and Russia. In the
USA, CBM production has increased from about 0.30 TCF (trillion cubic
feet) in 1991 to 1.1 TCF in 1997, the latter accounting for about 6%
of the total annual natural gas production of the country.