Occidental Research Corporation has for the past five years been actively engaged in a research program of draining methane gas from the Pocahontas #3 coal seam. This work is being conducted in Island Creek Coal Company's deep mines in the Virginia Pocahontas Division. The technique consists of drilling long horizontal inseam holes in advance of mining. The initial objective of the program was to reduce methane emissions in mine workings in order to improve mine safety and productivity. As the research program evolved, potential for commercial scale production and utilization of the gas resource became apparent. Current research activities include production and capturing of the gas and utilization at the mine plant for drying the coal. To date 27 horizontal holes have been drilled in three mines for an aggregate depth of over 6,400 meters (21,000 feet). The longest hole is 835 meters (2,740 feet). Over 18.4 million cubic meters (650 MMCF) of pipeline quality gas has been drained and transported safely to the surface through a network of underground pipelines. Coal dryers have been retrofitted with gas burners to replace #2 fuel oil and pulverized coal for drying coal.

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