A method of producing a nickel catalyst suitable for steam reformation and methane production is described which forms a permanent bond with the inner surface of an externally heated metal tube, e.g. a heat exchanger tube. To begin with, a metal sponge with good adhesion to the metal tube is produced on the basis of a metallic powder of the metal group which is treated by a conventional calcination process. The metal sponge is then covered with a metal oxide which is not reduced under reformation conditions, e.g. aluminium oxide, by wetting the metal sponge with aluminium nitrate and repeated calcination. Wetting and calcination are repeated twice, and the calcination temperature is lower each time in the range between 400 and 1200/sup 0/C. The activated nickel is there deposited by wetting with a nickel salt solution and subsequent calcination.