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Coal-bed Methane Reserves to be Developed

China will meet its rising demand for natural gas by making concerted efforts to develop coal-bed methane, said an executive with the China United Coalbed Methane Corp. Ltd. (CUCBM) on Tuesday.

China's proven coal-bed methane reserves are 36.7 trillion cubic meters, said Fan Zhiqiang, director with the technological department of the CUCBM, China's major coal-bed methane enterprise, at the 7th Sino-US Petroleum & Natural Gas Forum held in Hangzhou, capital of east China's Zhejiang Province.

China has the third largest coal-bed methane reserves in the world behind Russia and Canada.

China's demand for natural gas has been met by imports since 2003. According to estimates, China will import 30 billion cubic-meters of natural gas in 2010 and the imports will rise to 40 billion cubic meters in 2015.

Containing similar components to methane, coal-bed methane can be used as an alternative to natural gas. The development of coal-bed methane could relieve China's reliance on natural gas imports, as well as reducing the number of gas explosions in coal mines and methane emissions, said Fan.

China claims 405 coal mine gas explosions killed 2,157 persons in 2005, making gas explosions the most lethal killer in coal mine accidents.

China plans to have its coal-bed methane output reach 10 billion cubic meters in 2010 and increase the country's coal-bed methane proven reserves by 300 billion cubic meters.

It also aims to establish a complete industrial system for coal-bed methane development and use and nine transmission pipelines for coal-bed methane will be completed with a total length of 1,390 kilometers and a designed transmission capacity of 5.73 billion cubic meters.

China began to drill for coal-bed methane in the 1990's. By the end of last year, it had invested 2.4 billion yuan (US$300 million) in coal-bed methane exploration and completed the drilling of 607 wells with four blocks put into full operation.

A series of preferential policies have been issued by the government to encourage development and use of coal-bed methane, including those in taxes, financial supports and mining charges.

Those preferential policies have drawn a large amount of foreign investment.

According to statistics, by the end of April 2006, 16 foreign companies have signed 27 products sharing contracts on coal-bed methane with domestic enterprises with an actual investment of US$180million.

(Xinhua News Agency September 13, 2006)

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