Coal beds and methane-both free and adsorbed in coal, appear in the south of Poland in the Upper Carboniferous in two basins: Upper Silesian Coal Basin (USCB) and Lower Silesian Coal Basin (LSCB). At the depth of 3o(r1600 m the methane reserves are estimated at 350 to 1300 rnld m3 for USCB and ca. 20 mld m3 for LSCB. Methane content in coal varies between O and 22 m3/tpc, to significantly increase from the depth of 600 m, reaching average values of 4.7-7.0 m3/tpc.
Discrepancies in estimation are due to different calculation methods; the full geostatistical analysis methodstructural analysis-was not applied, however. Prognoses, apparently optimistic, determine the final recovery of methane from coal beds for ca. 5 mld m3/year for USCB, and ca. 300 min m3 for LSCB, which together with the production from the Polish gas reservoirs would give ca. 12 mld m3/year in the year 2010.
For the comparison's sake, the Polish consumption of gas is now ca. 11.8 rnld m3, being about 9% of total primary fuel consumption in Poland. Methane from coal beds was recovered earlier but used in less quantities (ca. 190 mln m3/year). It came from 18 USCB mines. Utilization of methane from coal basins aims at the reorientation of the Polish energy industry to the increased use of hydrocarbon fuels. Besides, the use of methane, especially in the Upper Silesia region, will significantly improve the ecological situation, limiting the emissions of SO, CO, NO, and dusts. The priorities of methane utilization are as follow: delivery to local receivers, for households, near big agglomerations Katowice, Opole, Bielsko; heating, housing estates, country, balance top needs; for local industrial works, metallurgical, ceramic, chemical plants, glass works; electric generation.
Now a few foreign companies are interested in methane exploitation in Poland, e.g. McCormick Energy Inc., USA, Amoco, Conoco, Electrogaz Ventures (Poland-USA), Metanel (Poland). There has been an auction of the licence for methane exploitation.
The fact that methane appears in coal beds has been known since the beginning of the mining industry. The gas was generally treated as a considerable hindrance in the exploitation of coal as a fuel. It has created a great hazard'for the miners in the form of explosions and outbursts of rock and coal.
For more than ten years the matter of methane enclosed in coal, treated as a fuel, has raised interest in many countries, e.g. U.S.A., Australia, China.
Research has been carried out on the content in coal, ways of deposition as well as methods of exploitation and leakproof transport to the surface.
Poland has also taken an interest in methane, coming from coal, as a fossil fuel. There are three coal basins in Poland (Fig. 1): - Upper Silesian Coa