Canadian Coal-bed Methane Next Frontier?
ARY -- Coal-bed methane will leap to prominence in Canada this year, energy industry players say, with about one in every eight wells drilled in the country hunting for natural gas trapped in seams of coal.
"It is the largest untapped natural gas opportunity in North America," said analyst Nick Rontogiannis of TD Securities Inc. in a recent report about coal-bed methane's "coming of age" in Western Canada.
Coal-bed methane -- methane is the primary component of natural gas -- is what's called an unconventional source of gas, requiring greater technical acumen and higher natural gas prices to justify exploration over conventional gas. And while companies in the United States have drilled for coal-bed methane for more than a decade, efforts in Canada have only begun in the past couple of years.
Production of coal-bed methane could quadruple by 2006, according to the National Energy Board, reaching about 400 million cubic feet a day, up from about 100 million cubic feet a day at present. Still, even with the jump, the figure will be only about 2 per cent of all the natural gas produced in Canada.
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