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BPI Energy (BPI) is an independent energy company engaged in the exploration, production and commercial sale of coalbed methane (CBM) in the Illinois Basin, which covers approximately 60,000 square miles in Illinois, southwestern Indiana and northwestern Kentucky. The company currently controls the dominant CBM acreage position in the Illinois Basin.
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Coalbed methane is a form of natural gas extracted from coal beds. In recent decades it has become an important source of energy in United States, Canada, and other countries. Australia has rich deposits where it is known as coal seam methane.
Also called coalbed gas, the term refers to methane adsorbed into the solid matrix of the coal. It is called 'sweet gas' because of its lack of hydrogen sulfide. The presence of this gas is well known from its occurrence in underground coal mining, where it presents a serious safety risk. Coalbed methane, often referred to as CBM, is distinct from a typical sandstone or other conventional gas reservoir, as the methane is stored within the coal by a process called adsorption. The methane is in a near-liquid state, lining the inside of pores within the coal (called the matrix). The open fractures in the coal (called the cleats) can also contain free gas or can be saturated with water.
Unlike much natural gas from conventional reservoirs, coalbed methane contains very little heavier hydrocarbons such as propane or butane, and no natural gas condensate. It often contains up to a few percent carbon dioxide. Some coal seams, such as those in certain areas of the Illawarra Coal Measures in NSW, Australia, contain little methane, with the predominant coal seam gas being carbon dioxide.