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China's 1st coalbed methane pipeline underway
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China has begun construction on its first coalbed methane (CBM) pipeline, which is intended to help ease energy strains.

Capable of carrying 3 billion cubic meters of CBM each year, the 35-kilometer line will link the Qinshui Basin in north China's Shanxi Province with the east-west natural gas pipeline, the China National Petroleum Corp., builder of the line, said on Wednesday.

The company didn't give information on costs or dates for completion and operation.

"The project will make use of CBM in a more economic way and supplement sources for the west-east gas pipeline and ease the gas supply strain," the country's largest oil and gas producer said in a statement.

It added that natural gas supplies will fall 60 billion cubic meters short of demand in China by 2010.

It said China's CBM reserves were about 30 trillion cubic meters. The largest reserves are in Russia and Canada.

The pipeline starts at Jinfeng Village, Qinshui County and ends at the Qinshui pump station of the west-east gas pipeline. Welding work began on June 6.

Methane in coalbeds has frequently led to deadly mine explosions in China. The government has been encouraging the utilization of the gas as fuel or for power generation and chemical production since the 1990s.

As of the end of April, CBM-to-power plants had a total installed capacity of 710,000 kilowatts, up 137 percent from the end of 2005, according to the energy bureau of the National Development and Reform Commission.

(Xinhua News Agency June 25, 2008)

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