The exploration for and development of coalbed methane (CBM), more accurately termed "coalbed gas", requires a thorough understanding of the geology of both coal and petroleum, together with many aspects of mining and reservoir engineering. Furthermore, the geology of the entire coal-bearing sequence(s) in an area of interest should be evaluated carefully. This evaluation should include any contributions by structural features and other lithological units that may be capable of storing volumes of coal-generated hydrocarbons.
Exploration studies should address such topics as 1) the physical and chemical nature of the coal (rank, chemistry, depositional environment, diagenesis, mineralization, etc.), 2) the thermal history and hydrodynamics of the region of interest, 3) composite thickness of the coal seams and of the overburden, 4) geologic structure and tectonic features, such as fracture patterns and igneous units, 5) coalbed gas desorption data in the study area, and 6) a petrographic analysis of available coal cores and well cuttings.