Coal Bed Methane: Dynamic New Segment of Petroleum Industry
Gas may be produced from coal as synthetic natural gas, in-situ gasification, or through conventional drainage of methane from coal reservoirs. The oil and gas industry has successfully implemented the latter process for nearly ten years. This dynamic new aspect of the energy industry has experienced exponential growth through a coordinated effort between commercial developers, research organizations, and government programs.
A preliminary study funded by the DOE indicated that approximately 400 tcf of gas was occluded in coal seams within 13 coal-bearing basins of the United States. The Gas Research Institute is in the process of estimating economically recoverable coal-bed methane over the same geographic areas. Simultaneously, the Potential Gas Agency, recognizing coal-bed methane as a gas resource, is in the process of categorizing the resource.
Major and independent operators have made commercial coal-bed methane discoveries within the Warrior basin, Piceance basin, and San Juan basin. Continued exploration will result in discoveries throughout the United States. Explorationists identifying coal-bed methane exploration criteria are pioneering new areas of geologic studies representing new opportunities for geologists.
In support of industry activity, the Gas Research Institute has implemented two field-oriented research programs. The Multi-Seam Project is developing the technology to stimulate and produce gas from shallow multiple-coal-seam intervals within the Warrior basin of Alabama. The Deep Coal Seam Project, operated by Resource Enterprises, Inc., in the Piceance basin of Colorado, is developing and improving technology to produce gas from coal seams buried in excess of 3,000 ft.
AAPG Search and Discovery Article #91038©1987 AAPG Annual Convention, Los Angeles, California, June 7-10, 1987.