Coal bed methane

  • India has the fifth-largest coal reserves in the world, and CBM has been looked at as a clean alternative fuel with significant prospects.
  • India’s CBM resources are estimated at around 92 trillion cubic feet (TCF), or 2,600 billion cubic meters (BCM).
  • The country’s coal and CBM reserves are found in 12 states of India, with the Gondwana sediments of eastern India holding the bulk.
  • Damodar Koel valley and Son valley are prospective areas for CBM development.


It is an unconventional form of natural gas found in coal deposits or coal seams.

CBM is formed during the process of coalification, the transformation of plant material into coal.


  1. In Power generation.
  2. As Compressed natural gas (CNG) auto fuel.
  3. As feedstock for fertilizers.
  4. Industrial uses such as in cement production, rolling mills, steel plants, and for methanol production.


  1. Methane is a greenhouse gas emitted through CBM extraction. Global methane emissions from coal mines are projected to account for approximately 8 percent of total global methane emissions.
  2. Disturbance of lands drilled and its effect on wildlife habitats results in ecosystem damage.
  3. CBM production behaviour is complex and difficult to predict in the early stages of recovery.
  4. Another concern is the effect water discharges from CBM development could potentially have on downstream water sources.

Disposal of the highly salinized water that must be removed to release the methane creates a challenge, as its introduction into freshwater ecosystems could have adverse effects.


1. Coal usage with carbon capture and storage technology.

2. Coal gasification: This involves use of chemical process to transform coal into natural gas or other chemicals which are environmentally less degrading. This is especially useful in India context, where India has surplus coal capacity and is deficient in other fossil fuels such as crude oil and natural gas. Thus, coal seam can be used to transformed into natural gas which is a much cleaner fuel. 

3. Using coal washing and coal grading techniques to reduce tar.

4. Promoting sustainable rehabilitation and promotion of renewable energy at mine sites after end of their life to salvage the mine site.

5. Employing local people in coal mining industry, giving royalty for local development, Corporate Social Responsibility.

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