Coal bed methane, also known as coal seam gas, is methane gas (CH4) that is formed as part of the coal formation, or coalification. Just 100 years ago, coal bed methane was not known as a valuable mineral. Methane is a highly combustible and potent greenhouse gas; thus, it has historically been regarded as one of the greatest dangers in the coal mining industry. Traditionally, coal bed methane was exploded or vented to protect coal miners from accidental explosions or asphyxiation. Caged canaries were kept in coal mines to warn miners of the presence of this hazardous gas. The first serious research on coal bed methane production did not occur until the 1970s when the U.S. Bureau of Mines and United States Steel Corporation developed a test project in Alabama’s Black Warrior Basin. Utilizing modern extraction techniques, coal bed methane extraction is now practical.
Alyssa Looney, ADR and the Extraction of Coal Bed Methane from Split-Ownership Estates, 6 Y.B. Arb. & Mediation 371 (2014).