Botswana to soon produce coal bed methane gas

Jan 13, 2005 01:00 AM

Botswana will soon be producing large quantities of coal bed methane gas. Gas Corporation of Botswana, which has been conducting a pilot project with 20 boreholes at Lephehpe coal wells, will start production around August this year. The gas will be marketed locally and internationally.
It is estimated that the coal bed methane gas in the prospective area of Mmashoro and Lephepe coal basins has a resource of 60 tcf in an area of 50,000 sq km (about 90 mm tons of gas).

Peter Bateman who is the spokesperson for the company said they expect to burn gas in July/August adding that four people who had gone to the United States as “training of trainers” have completed their course. He said they were busy consolidating all the equipment and shipping it from the United States to reach Botswana by March.
Bateman said the gas could be used for general heating, cooking, industrial heat production, electricity generation as well as fuel for vehicles. The gas borehole, he said, could generate electricity ten times more than the power from Morupule power station.

An official of the Department of Mines, however said an environmental impact assessment (EIA) study is still to be undertaken regarding the project for stakeholders to make their input. Exploration of coal in Botswana dates back to the late 1950s and the primary areas for coal exploration were along the railway line.
Information provided by the Department of Geological Surveys says even though methane gas was known to be associated with coal, its potential was not assessed.
"Instead of assessing the potential for coal bed methane, studies shifted to the more attractive commodity which is petroleum," reads the statement from the department. It says the shift in focus to the gas is due to recent development emanating from discouraging results that suggest a low potential for petroleum in Botswana.

Coal bed methane is a natural gas derived from coal seams commonly known as coal mine and is basically the same as conventional natural gas, which is a mixture of methane and other hydrocarbon gases.
Unlike other gases that are produced from sandstone or carbonate rock formations, the gas is produced from low-pressure underground coal formations.

Source: DailyNews OnLine
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