Coalbed Methane

Introduction

Coalbed methane (CBM) is the naturally occurring methane-rich gas in coal seams, but its nomenclature is somewhat confusing in Australia. Coalbed methane is commonly known as coal seam gas (CSG) in Queensland and as coal seam methane (CSM) in New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia. The coalbed methane that is associated with coalmining operations is traditionally called coalmine methane (CMM). The coalmine methane that is emitted to the atmosphere through mine ventilation systems is called ventilation air methane (VAM).

Coalbed methane exploration and drilling

Table 1 contains a statistical summary of wells drilled for stand-alone coalbed methane exploration or development but does not list coalmine methane drainage wells. A total of 229 wells were drilled in 2005, but drilling activity was lower in 2005 than in 2004. This lower activity is primarily attributable to the fact that fewer development wells were drilled for the Moranbah project in the Bowen Basin in Queensland. However, this decline was partially offset by an increase in the number of development wells drilled in the Surat Basin in Queensland.

Coalbed Methane Table 1: Number of Coalbed Methane Wells Drilled, 2000-2005
State Basin Coal Type Year
2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
Queensland All   39 88 100 140 231 190
Bowen high rank 30 57 68 120 206 102
Clarence-Moreton low rank 2 0 0 0 0 8
Cooper high rank 0 0 1 0 0 0
Galilee high rank 4 0 0 0 0 0
Ipswich high rank 0 0 2 1 0 0
Nagoorin low rank 0 0 0 0 1 3
Styx high rank 0 0 0 0 0 1
Surat low rank 3 31 29 18 24 76
New South Wales All   12 8 16 12 29 34
Clarence-Morton low rank 0 5 0 0 0 9
Gloucester high rank 0 0 0 0 4 0
Gunnedah high rank 4 0 2 0 6 3
Murray lignite 0 0 0 1 0 0
Sydney high rank 8 3 14 11 19 22
Victoria All   0 4 5 0 0 0
Otway lignite 0 4 5 0 0 0
Western Australia All   0 0 0 0 0 5
Perth high rank 0 0 0 0 0 5
Total     51 100 121 152 260 229

Coalmine methane drainage wells that are administered under coal mining legislations are not counted.

The data have been compiled from information provided by State governments or available on operators' websites.

Some data entries are provisional.

Coalbed Methane Table 1: Wells Drilled in 2000-2005 [PDF 23KB]

A notable increase in exploration drilling activities was achieved in the Clarence-Moreton, Nagoorin and Styx basins in the coastal regions of Queensland and in the Perth Basin in Western Australia in 2005. Not all these basins have been extensively explored for conventional petroleum.

A list of the operators of coalbed methane wells in Table 2 shows a gradual decrease in the number of operators despite the fact that overall drilling activities were much higher than several years before. Only five operators drilled more than 10 wells in 2005. This trend is a result of mergers and acquisitions. CH4 Gas (now a part of Arrow Energy) was the operator that drilled the most coalbed methane wells in 2003, 2004 and 2005.

Coalbed Methane Table 2: Operators of Coalbed Methane Wells, 2000-2005
Operator Year
2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
ACBM (Arrow) 0 3 0 1 0 0
Amadeus 2 0 0 0 0 0
Apex 0 0 0 0 1 0
Arrow 0 3 16 11 16 67
BNG 2 0 0 0 0 0
Carbon Minerals/ACM 1 0 0 0 1 0
CH4 Gas 2 10 11 57 142 77
Comet Ridge 0 0 0 0 1 0
Eastern Star Gas 0 4 5 0 4 3
Forcenergy 3 0 0 0 0 0
Galilee Energy 4 0 0 0 0 0
Lucas 0 0 0 0 4 0
Metgasco 0 0 0 0 0 8
Molopo 0 1 0 0 0 0
OCA 16 24 33 28 0 0
Origin 0 0 0 0 49 10
Queensland Gas 3 25 14 8 9 19
Samson 0 0 0 2 0 0
Santos 2 10 1 4 7 5
Strike Oil 0 0 2 0 0 0
Sunoco 0 4 0 0 0 0
Sunshine Gas 0 0 0 0 3 4
Sydney Gas 6 3 14 11 18 22
Tipperary 3 1 22 30 5 9
Tri-Star Petroleum 7 12 3 0 0 0
Westralian GP 0 0 0 0 0 5
Total 51 100 121 152 260 229

Coalmine methane drainage wells that are administered under coal mining legislations are not counted.

The data have been compiled from iinformation provided by State governments or available on operators' websites.

Coalbed Methane Table 2: Operators of Coalbed Methane Wells, 2005 [PDF 22KB]

Coalbed methane production and reserves

Table.3 is a summary of coalbed methane production, which includes coalmine methane utilisation. Annual production growth in Queensland is remarkable, and this trend is likely to be maintained for a few more years.

Production commenced at the Spring Gully field in the Bowen Basin in 2005: this is the only new project commissioned during the year. This field adjoins the Fairview field, and the combined reserves of these two fields represent half of Australia's entire coalbed methane reserves.

Coalbed Methane Table 3: Annual Production, 1996-2005
Year Queensland New South Wales Total (Australia)
PJ/y Bcf/y TJ/d MMcf/d PJ/y Bcf/y TJ/d MMcf/d PJ/y Bcf/y TJ/d MMcf/d
1996 2 2 5 5 0 0 0 0 2 2 5 5
1997 2 2 5 5 3 3 8 8 5 5 14 13
1998 3 3 8 8 6 5 15 14 9 8 23 22
1999 5 5 14 13 6 6 16 16 11 10 30 29
2000 6 6 16 16 7 6 18 17 13 12 34 33
2001 13 12 36 34 8 7 21 20 21 20 56 53
2002 25 24 68 65 9 8 23 22 34 32 92 87
2003 31 30 85 81 9 9 25 23 40 38 110 104
2004 35 33 96 91 10 9 26 25 45 42 122 116
2005 52 50 143 136 11 10 30 28 63 60 173 164
Total PJ Bcf   Total PJ Bcf   Total PJ Bcf  
174 166 66 63 241 229

Conversion factor used: 1 Bcf=1.05 PJ.

MMcf/d : million cubic feet per day

Coalmine methane utilisation is included.

The data have been compiled from information provided by State governments or available at the websites of various companies.

Some data entries are provisional.

DCoalbed Methane Table 3: Annual Production, 1996-2005 [PDF 24KB]

Table 4 contains information on existing and future coalbed methane production and coalmine methane utilisation projects. The proven plus probable (2P) reserves on the table may be called ultimate recoveries in a strict sense, as no production adjustments have been made on the figures. In reality, however, frequent upward revisions of the reserves are more significant than the volumes of cumulative production.

As of September 2005, Australia's total 2P reserves of coalbed methane reached 3,477 PJ. This total amount is comparable roughly to those of an offshore conventional gas field to be developed for an LNG project in Australia.

Coalbed Methane Table 4: Project, Production, Reserves and Supply Contracts, 2005
Project Operator Basin Production 2P reserves
(PJ)
Contract
Start-up
year
PJ/y as of Supply with Total
(PJ)
Start-up
year
Period
(years)
For
Moura colliery Anglo Coal Bowen 1996 5.5 2005   Energex 40 2003 10 Pipeline
Dawson Valley Anglo Coal Bowen 1996 2.7 2005 52          
Appin & Westcliff collieries Energy Developments Sydney 1997 5.8 2005           Power generation
Fairview Santos Bowen 1998 13.9 2005 1,098 Energex   2000 7 Pipeline
Orica 16 2006 10 Chemical
n/a 6 2005 2 n/a
Peat Origin Bowen 2000 6.0 2003 31 BP   2001 20 Refinery
Tahmoor colliery Envirogen Sydney 2000 0.5 2003            
Camden AGL Sydney 2001 3.5 2005 83 AGL 145 2005 10 Pipeline
Scotia Santos Bowen 2002 8.7 2005 CS Energy 120 2002 15 Power generation
Mungi Anglo Coal Bowen 2004 1.1 2005 58 Origin n/a 2004 n/a Pipeline
Ergon 38 2007 15 Power generation
Teralba colliery Envirogen Sydney 2004 1.1 2005           Power generation
Moranbah CH4 Gas Bowen 2004 15.0 2005 382 Ergon 18 2004 15 Power generation
Enertrade 290 2005 15 Pipeline
Dyno Nobel 90 2008 15 Chemical
Spring Gully Origin Bowen 2005 12.8 2006 696 AGL 195 2005 15 Pipeline
QAL 180 2006 15 Alumina
Incitec 70 2007 10 Chemical
(Origin)   2008   Power generation
Kogan North Arrow Surat 2006 1.6 2006 83 CS Energy 60 2006 15 Power generation
Oaky Creek colliery Envirogen Bowen 2006 0.9 2006       2006    
German Creek colliery Energy Developments Bowen 2006               Power generation
Berwyndale South/Berwyndale Queensland Gas Surat 2006 3.5 2006 210 CS Energy 40 2006 10 Pipeline
Braemar 40 2006 10 Power generation
(QGC) n/a 2007 n/a Power generation
Bellambi colliery Envirogen Sydney             2006    
Daandine Arrow Surat 2006     26 Alinta 22 2006 10 Power generation
Tipton West Arrow Surat 2007     174 Braemar 90 2006 15 Power generation
Ergon 59 2007 15 Power generation
BP Bulwer 15 2006 5 Refinery
Glennies Creek colliery Envirogen               2007   Power generation
Mt Lindesay Arrow Clarence-Moreton         AJ Bush n/a 2005 5 Food process
Argyle, Argyle East, Kenya, Lauren & Codie Queensland Gas Surat       200 Incitec Pivot 74 2007 10 Chemical
Harcourt & Bindaree Anglo Coal Bowen       24          
Lilyvale & Oak Park Anglo Coal Bowen       247          
Grosvenor Downs CH4 Gas Bowen       72          
Peak Downs CH4 Gas Bowen       104          
Casino South Metgasco Clarence-Moreton       22         Power generation
Bellevue Queensland Gas Surat       8          
Kenya East, Jammat, Sean & Broadwater Queensland Gas Surat       5          
North Goonyella CH4 Gas Bowen         Ergon       Power generation
Endeavour & Munmorah colliery Powercoal Sydney                  
Total       82.5   3574   1,607      

No adjustments have been attempted to subtract volumes produced since the reserves were originally reported. Thus, the listed figures may be somewhere between initial and current reserves.

n/a: information is not available.

Compiled: June 2006.

Coalbed Methane Table 4: Project Production, Reserves and Supply Contracts, 2005 [PDF 11KB]

Topic contact: petroleum@ga.gov.au Last updated: May 31, 2012