PetroChina pumps coal seam gas in West-East pipeline

BEIJING, Sept 16 Wed Sep 16, 2009 4:11am BST

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BEIJING, Sept 16 (Reuters) - PetroChina (0857.HK) began pumping coalbed methane into its flagship West-to-East natural gas pipeline on Tuesday, shipping the dangerous gas for coal mining from northern Shanxi to faraway gas users.

The coal seam gas produced in Qinshui Basin in coal-rich Shanxi will be mixed with natural gas from western China and then sent to users in the east, China Petroleum Daily, a newspaper run by CNPC, PetroChina's (601857.SS) parent, reported on Wednesday.

PetroChina started building the 35 kilometre-long coal seam gas pipe in June last year that has an annual transportation capacity of 3 billion cubic metres (bcm), the report said.

Gas explosion is the major cause for coal mine deaths in China and the use of coal-bed methane gas by the world's largest coal producer is still in its infancy.

China pumped 5.3 bcm of the gas in 2008 but used only 1.6 bcm, with the rest being pumped into air to avoid build-ups that could set off explosions in coal mines.

China's West-to-East pipeline, with maximum capacity of 17 bcm per year, ships natural gas from northwestern Xinjiang to eastern regions including Shanghai. (Reporting by Jim Bai and Tom Miles, Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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