Raven Ridge Resources has been actively involved in coalbed methane activity in China since 1991, when we began providing geological expertise to a Global Environmental Facility (GEF) project administered by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). UNDP’s goal was to evaluate the potential for coalbed methane development in China. Our personnel continued to support the project, participating in three missions in 1995 and 1996. RRR’s role in the project included identifying equipment to be procured, constructing laboratory equipment, and conducting technical workshops and training. The program resulted in several methane recovery and use demonstration projects and has since been completed.
We have also conducted coalbed methane projects in China for U.S. EPA. In 1994 and 1995, RRR undertook missions to China on behalf of U.S. EPA, and used data gathered during these missions to prepare a comprehensive 1996 report on the potential for coalbed methane development in China. The report discussed coalbed methane resource estimates for various basins within China and the potential for increasing its recovery and use.
In addition to coalbed methane projects in China for the United Nations and U.S. EPA, RRR undertook a project for J-Coal as a key participant in an Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) mission to China during which a site was selected for a demonstration of coal mine gas recovery. Our primary role in the project was to estimate reserves and evaluate the technical feasibility of coalbed methane recovery. RRR is currently providing support to U.S. EPA for its joint project with the China State Administration of Coal Industry (SACI) to increase coalbed methane development by attracting foreign investment in coalbed methane projects. RRR assisted SACI, U.S. EPA and the China Coalbed Methane Clearinghouse with a major Symposium and “prospect fair” that showcased eight coal mining companies with strong potential for profitable coal mine methane projects.
In 2008 Raven Ridge personnel conducted a study which evaluated the potential for a VAM project in China. This study was commissioned by a client interested in investing in the project, and resulted in a commitment to move forward with the project under CDM protocol.
In 1991 RRR traveled to western Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic) as part of a U.S. EPA-sponsored mission for the purpose of evaluating the potential for recovering and using coalbed methane. This mission required extensive data gathering from government organizations and technical institutions. We gathered and compiled geologic information related to the coal and coalbed methane resources of the country’s four major hard coal producing basins. For each basin, the report described the geologic setting, coal resources, coal production, and methane liberation from mines. The report focused on the Upper Silesian Coal Basin (Ostrava-Karvina Mining District), which has the most potential for coalbed methane development, and presented case studies of three coal mining concessions with strong potential for coalbed methane development. The report also discussed Czechoslovakia’s energy sector and the potential demand for coalbed methane. The final report, Assessment of the Potential for Economic Development and Utilization of Coalbed Methane in Czechoslovakia, was published in 1992.
RRR provided an expert to a United Nations Development Programme mission to India for the purpose of developing a “project brief”. This document described a plan for a coalbed methane demonstration project that calls for developing a gas recovery program at two underground coal mines. The recovered gas would fuel an internal combustion power generation station and a compressed natural gas vehicle refueling station.
As a result, RRR led a second mission to India to prepare a Project Document that detailed the activities and proposed a budget. Formulating the project concept presented in this document entailed compiling extensive information on India’s coal industry, energy sector, and regulatory framework. It also required visiting various institutions and coal mine sites to gather and review information on coal characteristics and resources, to determine the most prospective coalfields and identify specific sites for the proposed project. We proposed a project concept that would effectively capture methane in working coal mines from 1) mined out areas, using vertical wells drilled from the surface; 2) the coal face, via deep inseam drilling of long holes in coal and surrounding strata; and 3) in the coal reserves by drilling surface boreholes in advance of mining. Methane would be brought to the surface and subsequently used for power generation or as a substitute for diesel fuel in dump trucks. The Project Document also identified technical and institutional barriers to commercial methane recovery and use in India, and identified strategies for overcoming these barriers. These strategies included providing training in coalbed methane recovery and use technologies, and demonstrating the use of current drilling technologies.
The Global Environmental Facility (GEF) approved the project and funded it for a total of $US 19.2 million. The project is moving toward implementation.
In 1990 RRR traveled to Poland as part of a U.S. EPA and U.S. AID-sponsored mission for the purpose of evaluating the potential for recovering and using coalbed methane. This mission entailed extensive data gathering from a variety of Polish government organizations and technical institutions. We visited the country’s three major coal producing basins and compiled geologic information related to the coal and coalbed methane resources of these basins, as well as data on ventilation, drainage, and utilization of methane from coal mines. RRR successfully compiled and interpreted the various data, using it to prepare a number of maps and tables showing which mining areas and specific mines had the highest potential for coalbed methane development. The result was the 1991 report Assessment of the Potential for Economic Development and Utilization of Coalbed Methane in Poland, published by U.S. EPA. Subsequently, RRR compiled data and prepared a 1995 U.S. EPA report titled Reducing Methane Emissions From Coal Mines in Poland: A Handbook for Expanding Coalbed Methane Recovery and Utilization in the Upper Silesian Coal Basin. This report focused on Poland’s gassiest coal basin, profiled in detail 17 mines with the highest potential for increased coalbed methane recovery.
RRR performed an in-depth study for Sumitomo Coal Mining Co. Ltd. on the potential for coal mine methane recovery from the abandoned Akabira mine on Hokkaido, which was once one of the gassiest mines in the world. Undertaking the study required RRR to gain a thorough understanding of the geologic and structural setting of the region, and the production history of coal and methane at the mine. We used seam area maps to construct isopach maps and calculate in-place and recoverable coal and gas reserves. RRR modeled migration of gas from the coal seams to the surrounding mined-out areas using the PORFLOW™ model, which showed migration of the gas from the coal seams to the surrounding mined-out areas. Ultimately, we estimated the gas resource remaining in the mine by calculating the original coal resource and the gas contained therein, and then subtracting the gas contained in the mined-out coal and the gas migrating within the coal from a halo surrounding the mined-out areas, and from surrounding strata. Based on RRR’s resource estimates and recommendations, Sumitomo has developed a project proposal for recovering and utilizing methane from the Akabira Mine. The project would use methane recovered from the mine to generate electricity to help meet the power needs of the surrounding area. We are preparing to begin work on the next stage, to develop production forecasts to help enable Sumitomo to optimize the sizing of the power generation equipment.
Raven Ridge Resources advised Glencoal Energy and its joint venture partners on maximizing the efficiency of underground coal gasification (UCG) development drilling and resource recovery. If an exploration and development program is implemented, it will result in the emplacement of the first UCG commercial demonstration module using controlled retractible injection point technology.
RRR began working in Russia in 1992, when we visited both Russia and Ukraine as part of a U.S. EPA mission to identify opportunities for coalbed methane recovery and utilization in those countries. We visited the Kuznetsk and Donetsk Coal Basins to gather geologic information related to coal and coalbed methane resources, as well as ventilation, drainage, and utilization of methane from the many coal mines in these basins. RRR compiled information on the geologic setting of the basins, as well as coal reserves and coal production, coal characteristics, and the most promising opportunities for utilizing this methane. RRR presented this information in the 1994 report Reducing Methane Emissions from Coal Mines in Russia and Ukraine: The Potential for Coalbed Methane Development.
Subsequently, RRR returned to Russia to focus on coalbed methane recovery opportunities in the Kuznetsk coal basin. The goal of this mission was to obtain updated information on the rapidly changing coal industry in Russia, and to identify which coal production associations showed the greatest potential for coalbed methane recovery. Working with Russian specialists and U.S. EPA, we identified three coal production associations and six affiliated mines that appeared most promising for coalbed methane project development. RRR presented the results in the 1996 U.S. EPA report, Reducing Methane Emissions from Coal Mines in Russia: A Handbook for Expanding Coalbed Methane Recovery and Use in the Kuznetsk Coal Basin.
Following publication of this report, RRR traveled to Russia on a U.S. EPA-sponsored mission to prepare a project proposal for utilizing coalbed methane in boilers at the Kirov mine in the Kuznetsk Basin. We have continued to provide support to the Russian Coalbed Methane Center in various ways, including training personnel in approaches for attracting foreign investment.
Beginning in January 1997 through mid 1999, RRR undertook a major coalbed methane resource assessment in Turkey for DanOil, LLC and its joint venture partner Data Su. We were asked to evaluate the commercial coalbed methane potential for a 6,100 square mile lease area. This effort culminated in the preparation of a detailed resource estimate and recommended drilling targets.
The project required total of four trips to Turkey. These involved training Turkish staff in the fundamentals of coalbed methane, logging and sampling of two coal exploration coreholes, gathering data, and evaluation of an adjacent lease area. Following these missions, RRR compiled and interpreted the data collected, and prepared an assessment of the potential for development of coalbed methane in the area of interest. Due to the geologic complexity of these methane resource areas, the resource estimate was prepared by dividing these areas into individual blocks based on geologic structure and coal seam depths for calculation of the in-place resource. Using this approach, we were able to prepare a detailed resource estimate and recommend drilling targets. RRR then presented the findings of this project to numerous major and large independent oil and gas companies for Dan Oil.
RRR first began working in Ukraine in 1992 as part of a U.S. EPA mission to identify opportunities for coalbed methane recovery and utilization in both Russia and Ukraine countries. During this mission, RRR visited the Donetsk Coal Basin (most of which is in Ukraine) and the L’vov-Volyn Basin, and compiled extensive geologic, coal, and coalbed methane information on these basins. Following publication of the 1994 report Reducing Methane Emissions from Coal Mines in Russia and Ukraine: The Potential for Coalbed Methane Development, RRR undertook subsequent U.S. EPA missions to Ukraine to identify opportunities for coalbed methane projects at specific mines in the Donetsk Basin, specifically the Skochinksy Mine. We performed a preliminary technical and economic analysis of methane utilization potential at this mine. Since then, we have continued to provide assistance to the Alternative Fuels Center in Ukraine, including training in the use of an economic model for determining the feasibility of various coalbed methane projects.
Separate and distinct from its U.S. EPA work in Ukraine, RRR, as an equity partner in CBM Energy Limited, developed a coalbed methane prospect in Ukraine. This required travel to Ukraine and extensive data collection. RRR calculated coal reserves and recoverable methane reserves within the area of interest, prepared a financial analysis, and designed a pilot exploration and development program.
Under contract to Alkane Energy PLC (formerly Coalgas UK, PLC), RRR determined methane reserves contained in abandoned underground coal mines within the Alkane license areas in the U.K. Alkane seeks to establish numerous sites above abandoned coal mine workings that will draw medium heating value gas from the mine void space for use as fuel for local industry, or for generating power through the use of internal combustion engines for distribution through the electric grid. We performed simulation modeling of methane emissions from these mines using computational fluid dynamics software (PORFLOW™). RRR also prepared production rate schedules and determined cash flow projections that Alkane is using in business planning and capital solicitation.
In 1993, RRR assessed coalbed methane exploration work performed to date in the Shangani River valley in northern Zimbabwe. The project, performed for Union Carbide Management Services, included evaluating previous coal and coalbed methane resource estimates for the region. RRR modified these estimates based on adsorption testing performed in our laboratory, and on desorption data that was reprocessed using RRR’s statistical methods.
Prior to this assessment, James Marshall of RRR visited the Wankie coal mine in Hwange, Zimbabwe, as a side trip during a six-week cultural and business exchange in Zaire sponsored by Rotary International. This time spent in Zimbabwe and Zaire helped familiarize RRR with geological and general conditions in southern Africa.
Raven Ridge has worked with the United Nations on several ground breaking projects. Mr. Pilcher was a key member of the team that developed the first CMM project for the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) which was approved in 1992 and administered by UNDP. The total investment in the project was $19.81 million USD. This project was one of the first GEF projects approved and it had a significant impact on development of coal mine methane and coalbed methane projects in China. Mr. Pilcher and Raven Ridge staff provided technical services and equipment to China in support of the project.
In 1996 Mr. Pilcher participated in another opportunity to develop a GEF project; this time in India. Raven Ridge assisted UNDP staff develop the project strategy and supporting documentation. The project was approved in 1997 for $19.04 million USD.
In 2002 Mr. Marshall and Mr. Pilcher aided UNDP staff in the re-write of a project document for a GEF project located in the Kuznetsk basin of Russia. The Project was approved in 2003 for $8.53 million USD. Mr. Marshall continues to work on the project as the International Technical Advisor.
Mr. Pilcher and Mr. Marshall participated in UNECE meetings that resulted in the formation of the Ad Hoc Group of Experts on Coal Mine Methane. In April 2005 Mr. Pilcher was named chairman of a UNECE Technical Task Force on the Economic Benefits of Improving Mine Safety through Extraction and Use of Coal Mine Methane. Under the aegis of the task force a template for examining the economics of coal mine methane extraction was developed. Mr. Pilcher, Ms. Bergamo and Dr. Pamela Franklin authored two papers that were published by the UNECE. Under Mr. Pilcher’s guidance of the task force, papers authored by experts from Ukraine and Russia were also published by the UNECE. In 2007, the responsibilities of the task force became part of the portfolio managed by the Bureau of the Ad Hoc Group of Experts. Mr. Pilcher was elected to the Bureau and continues work on mine safety and economics.