Russian President Dmitry Medvedev took part in a ceremony to launch production of coalbed methane gas in southwest Siberia on Friday.
A shift in production of unconventional natural gas, which includes gas extracted from shale rock and methane reserves in coal mines, was discussed at a world business forum in Davos last month, which addressed concerns over dependence on oil and cleaner energy options.
Coalbed methane (CBM) reserves in Russia's Siberian Kuzbass coal basin are estimated at 13.1 trillion cubic meters.
Medvedev watched the launch of the first of the seven exploratory wells, and gave orders to start production, congratulating the workers and wishing them every success with the project.
A total of 30 wells are planned to be bored in the region this year and 128 wells will be opened annually starting from 2011. The design capacity of the project is 1.5 trillion cu m a year.
The project is also expected to improve safety of coal mining in the region, removing excess methane that can cause fatal explosions in mines.
New extraction methods have brought unconventional natural gas such as coalbed methane into the mainstream in the United States, where CBM provides more than 10% of domestically consumed gas, according to the Geological Society.
KEMEROVO, February 12 (RIA Novosti)