Fracking v Methane Extraction – what’s the difference?

Given the saturation media coverage it’s virtually impossible not to know a little about fracking for shale gas, but many people might not have heard about coal-bed methane extraction.

Do not be mistaken – they are not the same thing.

frackingShale gas refers to natural gas that is trapped within fractures and pore spaces within fine grained sedimentary shale rocks. It is extracted by forcing fractures in a layer of rock using pressurised fluid to force the natural gas from the shale in a process known as hydraulic fracturing – more commonly referred to as fracking.

Coal-bed methane extraction is different. Methane is held within the coal by absorption and can be extracted from intact coal seams.

Extraction of coal-bed methane involves drilling down into the coal-bed seams, pumping out the ground water and the resultant drop in pressure is sufficient for methane held within the coal to be released.  Only occasionally would coal-bed methane extraction be enhanced by hydraulic fracturing.

It’s important you’re aware of the different processes, particularly if you are approached by an energy company. It’s essential you appoint professional help and that agreement in writing is made prior to any entry being taken.  In many cases energy companies will pay your professional fees in this instance.

We have experience dealing with a number of enquiries of this type and have recently been involved in agreeing the terms for a trial dig in south Cheshire for coal-bed methane extraction.

If you are approached by an energy company and want support when dealing with them, please contact us on 01829 773000.