coal bed

NACBM Forum Celebrates 30 Years

By On February 24, 2015 3:14 pm

By: Kristie Kubovic, Director of Communications, Shale Media Group
Edited By: Mindy Gattner, Editor, Shale Media Group
Photos By: Shale Media Group

The North American Coalbed Methane (NACBM) Forum was established in 1985 to develop and increase production of coalbed methane (CBM) as an energy resource and advance mine safety, by collecting coalbed methane from deep mines. The first Forum was held in 1986 in Pittsburgh, PA.

nacmbFast forward to 2015, when the 30th anniversary of the Forum is fast approaching but the mission has remained the same. In addition, the Forum also addresses processing of the produced gas including the option of making liquid natural gas. This will greatly increase the utilization of produced energy.

Dr. Pramod Thakur, President, NACBM Forum, says that the production of CBM from coal seams is important for two reasons. “The production keeps the mines safe from explosions of methane-air mixture by draining the gas from minable coal seams (up to a depth of 3,000 feet). In addition, it exploits deeper gas reservoirs that contain 1,000 TCF of methane (to a depth of 10,000 feet). This is 10 times bigger than the Marcellus Shale reserve. This can lead us to energy-independence.”

Ihor Havryluk, Secretary, NACBM Forum, and one of the forum’s founding fathers, has been involved with coalbed methane since the early 1980’s. Havryluk believes, “Coal, just like black shales, has a tremendous potential for methane production. Coal deposits are present on every inhabitable continent; and wherever you have coal, you have coalbed methane.” As a geologist with experience in both coal and shale oil and gas, Havryluk felt that for him to get involved in coalbed methane, was a natural.

The NACBM Forum is governed by a Board of Directors and consists of representatives from the coalbed methane industry, coal and gas industries, gas marketing and service industries, and representatives from the legal, government, and education communities. In the organization’s 30-year history, it has held forums in Pennsylvania and West Virginia and established scholarships and endowments.

Thakur relayed, “The Forum provides an opportunity for an exchange of information and ideas on coalbed methane research and technology between the public and private sectors. Forum participants can share practical experience in the development and use of coalbed methane and present related information on legal, environmental, ownership, and other important issues which accompany the production of coalbed methane.”

To celebrate their 30th anniversary, the NACBM Forum will host a two-day session at the Southpointe Hilton Garden Inn near Canonsburg, PA. A one-day short course will be held on Wednesday, May 20, while the Forum’s regular session will be held on Thursday, May 21. The registration fee for both days is $350.00. A one-day registration (either the first or second day) is $250.00. Robert Murray, Chairman, Murray Energy Inc., will be the keynote speaker at the luncheon on May 21, 2015 and will address “The Future of Coal in USA.”

peet soot

Peet Soot presenting at the 2014 NACBM Forum

The short course will cover the topics of: Coalbed Methane and Coal Geology, Vertical Drilling and Hydraulic Fracturing (Including Reservoir Properties), Coal Seam Degasification, and Coalbed Methane Production Techniques. The regular session will include: Dynamics of Natural Gas Production: Global Energy Picture, New CBM Projects: Hoosier Energy Coalbed Methane Project in Indiana, Coalbed Methane Potential in Illinois Coal Basin, Conversion of Coal Gas to Liquids, Cleaning and Compressing Coalbed Methane, Impact of Methane Recovery on Coal Mining, and Legal and Regulatory Updates.

In addition, the regular session will host a panel presentation and discussion on “Why and how coal is important to your state.” This will be conducted by various states’ coal association executives, which include Phil Gomet of Illinois, Bruce Stevens of Indiana, Bill Bissett of Kentucky, Christian Palich of Ohio, John Pippy of Pennsylvania, Harry Childress of Virginia, and Bill Raney of West Virginia.

During last year’s forum, which was held at the Pines Country Club in Morgantown, WV, Thakur stated, “The NACBM Forum is dedicated to promoting mine safety by methane drainage and production of methane from virgin coal seams. We do not create new technology but disseminate the latest technology to coal and gas industries for this purpose.” While Joanne Reilly, Board Member, NACBM Forum, added, “Knowledge is critical when it comes to working with methane gas. Methane is explosive at 5-15%, and you don’t want to be caught off-guard with high levels of methane in your coalmine. The next generation needs to know how to handle the methane in the coalmines and utilize it on the surface as an American form of energy.”


Photo from 2014 NACBM Forum

In the past, Forum attendees have come from near and far. One of last year’s attendees came from China. Dr. Yunxing Cao of Henan Polytechnic University in China, stated, “The importance of this conference is for the educational and technological purposes and for understanding the current energy trends in the United States. The coal formation in the United States is younger, while China has more complex issues pertaining to CBM. I received information from experts at the NACBM Forum.”

Thakur added, “Coal has been a major source of energy for the past 200 years and lead to the industrial revolution in many Western and Eastern countries. Ninety percent of BTUs [British thermal units] in fossil fuel in the US are contained in coal. We, therefore, must look at the future and base our energy supply on the largest source of energy—that is coal. It would be a mistake to marginalize coal in favor of natural gas in the long run because we have a limited reserve of natural gas. Besides, coal occurs in 31 states in the US. It is the cheapest and most abundant source of energy in the US and some other countries in the world. It can be used as a solid or in its liquefied and gaseous forms as well.”

Thakur expanded further, “As far as CBM production is concerned, there is great synergy between the CBM and the shale gas industry. Most of the drilling technology that we use today for CBM production came from the oil and gas industry. The technology, horizontal drilling with hydraulic fracturing, used to produce shale deposits can also be used in Western thick coal seams to easily double the current production of CBM, providing 10% of US natural gas consumption (about 2 TCF). Conversely, some CBM production technology has been and can be used for producing oil from shallow deposits. Typically a shaft is sunk to the oil deposit and horizontal drilling is done to recover oil that cannot be recovered by vertical drilling alone. In the national interest, all three industries: oil, natural gas, and Coal/CBM, need to work together to make our nation energy-independent.”

For more information on the NACBM forum, click here. For registration, please contact Dr. Aminian at Early registrations will receive a copy of the Elsevier publication, “Coalbed Methane: From Prospect to Pipeline.”

Shale Media Group (SMG) is the news, information, and education resource dedicated to the shale oil and gas industries by messaging across video, Internet, publications, events, and radio. For more, check out to access all platforms, including SMG’s latest news delivery system–Shale Energy Business Briefing (SEBB), an ad-free subscription based service, where subscribers receive a real-time, daily email, featuring concise, hard hitting shale news 7 days/week, 365 days/year. To sign up, go to Kristie Kubovic is the Director of Communications at Shale Media Group. Contact her at

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