Polskie Górnictwo Naftowe i Gazownictwo and Polska Grupa Górnicza have signed an agreement on pre-mining capture of methane from hard coal seams. The works will be carried out at the site of Ruda Ruch Bielszowice Coal Mine.
The agreement between PGNiG and PGG provides for the drilling of a borehole system consisting of a vertical well and an intersected horizontal well. After drilling the wells and performing a complete set of geophysical surveys and laboratory tests, a workover procedure will be carried out in the horizontal well in order to stimulate the flow of methane into the well. PGNiG will then conduct production tests to determine the potential for methane capture from the coal seams to be exploited. The works will be carried out in the Ruda Ruch Bielszowice Coal Mine located within the western part of the “Zabrze-Bielszowice” hard coal deposit. PGG plans to start mining the walls in this part of the deposit after 2026.
“Methane from coal seams is extracted all around the world. The exploitation of the resource in Silesia will significantly increase the capabilities for domestic extraction of this fuel and, at the same time, reduce the emissions of methane, which is an aggressive greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere,” said Piotr Woźniak, President of the Management Board of PGNiG SA. “The cooperation with PGG is a unique opportunity for us to develop effective methods of exploration and extraction of this fuel on an industrial scale,” he added.
According to the estimates of the Polish Geological Institute – Polish Research Institute, the Upper Silesian Coal Basin may contain as much as 170 billion cubic metres of methane. Currently, these resources present a serious problem for coal mining companies. Methane released during mining operations poses a fatal danger to underground crews, and its removal reduces the pace of mining operations and increases their cost. At the same time, most of the methane released during coal mining is released into the atmosphere, where it contributes to the greenhouse effect. PGNiG and PGG hope that methane capture before coal mining will help mitigate these difficulties.
“Polska Grupa Górnicza is interested in increasing the safety of mining operations in the face of the growing methane hazard. In order to achieve these objectives, it is necessary to develop innovative technologies for obtaining methane from coal seams combined with capture of methane from areas of future mining operations. Such prospects are provided by the Geo-Metan project implemented by Polskie Górnictwo Naftowe i Gazownictwo SA. Currently, capturing methane in Ruch Bielszowice is carried out with conventional methods,” said Tomasz Rogala, President of the Management Board of PGG.
PGG and PGNiG cooperate within the framework of the Geo-Metan programme, the aim of which is to develop methods and techniques of pre-mining capture of methane from coal seams. The companies signed a letter of intent in this regard in January last year. The signatories also include Tauron Polska Energia SA and Jastrzębska Spółka Węglowa.
Bielszowice coal mine is one of the three components of the combined Ruda mine in Ruda Śląska. It conducts the exploitation of the deposit with the use of comprehensive mechanization of works, modern underground transport solutions and monitoring systems for production and natural hazards, including a security dispatch room equipped with one of the most modern gasometer systems. Natural hazards occurring are included in the highest grades and categories, including the IV category of methane hazard and II stage of rock burst hazard.
Activities within the Geo-Metan project in the Ruch Bielszowice mine should contribute to lowering the initial, high methane content of the coal seam and reducing the release of methane during subsequent mining operations. This will allow to increase the safety of mining works as well as to increase the amount of methane captured and used economically. In terms of the environment, the emission of methane to the atmosphere will also be significantly reduced.
Independently of the cooperation with PGG, PGNiG is currently carrying out methane capture tests from coal seams in the “Międzyrzecze” licence in Silesia. In the area of Gilowice, the municipality of Miedźna, the company has so far drilled 5 boreholes (two vertical, two horizontal and one directional). A 3D seismic survey was also carried out within the licence area. The results of production tests were positive – between June and November 2017, the volume of nearly 900,000 cubic metres of high-methane natural gas was produced from local coal seams. After the completion of the production test, development work began. Further activities in this area has been planned by PGNiG for 2019.