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What is the Environmental Footprint of CBM?

Well Sites/Pad Sizes

A standard single well conventional drilling site will typically affect a surface area measuring 100 meters by 100 meters. Since CBM wells are usually shallow in comparison to conventional gas, smaller rigs and smaller surface areas may be used.

Where coal seams are deep enough to permit directional drilling, drilling pads may be used to house multiple wells. A standard well pad will typically affect a surface area measuring 100 meters by 200 meters. While the original pad site has a larger surface impact, its cumulative effect on the environment is much smaller. Pad sites allow multiple wells to be drilled from one surface area, thereby reducing the total surface area required for gas development.

Once CBM drilling is complete and the well is connected to the pipeline, the lease area can be reclaimed to minimize surface disturbance.

The Canadian Society for Unconventional Gas estimates that well spacing for CBM operations is likely to range from 2-8 wells per section. While this is higher than one well per section for conventional gas wells, it is similar to the spacing for shallow gas wells, and is the same as conventional oil well spacing.


In many cases, flaring associated with Natural Gas from Coal development is very minimal. Most flaring occurs after drilling and prior to tying into a pipeline. This flaring is legally mandated for safety reasons. Generally, most wells will not flare beyond a week. Since the gas produced is sweet, flaring is typically not a safety or health concern as is found with sour gas productions.

Alberta regulations stipulate that all flaring activity must be reported to the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board (EUB).

Plugging and Abandonment

As with conventional gas development, all CBM wells will be plugged and abandoned once all recoverable gas has been extracted. In general, cement is used to permanently seal the flow of gas and water from the coal.

Since CBM is currently regulated under the same rules as natural gas, reclamation requirements remain the same.

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