The coal-rich province of Shanxi used a record amount of coalbed methane last year as it eyes methane as a source of clean energy.
Local mining firms extracted 11.5 billion cubic meters of methane gas and utilized 7 billion cubic meters, both new record levels, according to the Shanxi provincial department of land and resources.
The amount used was more than double the 3.4 billion cubic meters in 2012, it said.
The province is rich in coalbed methane, a clean energy source similar to natural gas. Shanxi has an estimated 8.3 trillion cubic meters of coalbed methane within 2,000 meters below ground, accounting for 27.7 percent of the country's total, the department said.
Shanxi had proven reserves of 578.4 billion cubic meters at the end of 2015, accounting for 88 percent of the country's total.
Zhou Jianchun, head of the department, said Shanxi has rolled out government plans and policies to speed up exploration and development of methane gas.
Shanxi plans to increase its proven reserves of coalbed methane to 1 trillion cubic meters by 2020, when the annual output is expected to hit 20 billion cubic meters, said Zhou.
Coalbed methane is a byproduct of coal and a major killer in coal mine accidents. Utilization can help reduce risks in mining, cut greenhouse gas emissions and ease gas shortages.