Due to the rising costs of energy today, energy sources that have been unnoticed so far, gain greater interests. Renewable energy sources like sun, wind, water and biomass clearly belong to these unnoticed sources. Until, however, these renewable energy sources can be used in a large scale, medium-term other alternative energy sources have to bridge the gap of the rising energy needs, not only since fossil energy sources from conventional deposits such as natural gas and oil have almost reached their procution peak. An alternative solution to the conventional deposits can be the unconventional natural gas resource from a coal seam, called Coalbed Methane (CBM).


In Germany, coalbed methane can be found in large quantities, especially in the deep coal seams of the Münsterland area. Technical and economic parameters have changed over the last ten years, which makes the exploitation of the coalbed methane feasable, thus presenting CBM as a serious alternative to the conventional natural gas resources. The further development of the drilling technologies provides a cost-effective and efficient access to the unconventional resources of coalbed methane in the Ruhr and Münsterland area.


In this context a pre-feasibility study was carried out by FUMINCO in cooperation with several departments of the RWTH Aachen University in 2007 and 2008, that should examine the feasibility of coalbed methane production by drilling deep wells in the Ruhr and Münsterland area. The pre-feasibility study has been the first step in a three phase project, which was financed by the government of North Rhine-Westphalia, Minegas GmbH and Mingas-Power GmbH. The project has been carried out by the Research Centre Jülich (PT ETN).


Aim of the first phase of project was the theoretical proof of the technical feasibility of the production of coalbed methane in the Münsterland area. Main task of FUMINCO has been the determination of the drilling, completion and drainage technics of deep wells for the production of coalbed methane, which can be found in different geological horizons. Subsequently the technologies were reviewed engineer scientifically in the context of the potential production area Münsterland/Ruhr. In addition, process alternatives, for example the storage of carbon dioxide or underground coal gasification, were discussed. The result was a multi-stage concept for the development of the coalbed methane deposit in the target area, which was presented in a 160 page final report.



Based on the proof of the technical feasibility and the development concept, the environmental impact of the production of coalbed methane can be analysed. The consideration of these risks was part of phase two of the project.


Further administrative support of the project coordination and public relations work were taken over by FUMINCO. This work included the mine surveying support of the scientific claim “CBM-RWTH” of the RWTH Aachen University.


Next step was the realization of phase IIA of the project (2009 - 2011). Content of this phase of the project was an economic study of a potential production of coalbed methane in the claim “CBM-RWTH”. FUMINCO carried out a sensitivity analysis of all parameters, which were considered to have impact on costs of coalbed methane production. Furthermore, a database was developed to collect all know-how concerning the topic coalbed methane. The support of the scientific claim “CBM-RWTH” was also task of FUMINCO in this phase of project.


During phase II a risk assessment of the production of coalbed methane in the Münsterland area is planned (Phase IIB). For every step in a coalbed methane production the risks for the environment, water and residents should be determined. This phase of project has not started yet.

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