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ABSTRACT: Coalbed Methane in West Virginia

Thomas E. Repine, Jr., Kenneth C. Ashton, Bascombe M. Blake, Jr.

Published coalbed methane reserve estimates for the geographic area encompassing the northern and central Appalachian coal basins indicate that between 60 and 109 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of in-place methane may be found in the region's numerous coalbeds. Gas contents of northern Appalachian high- and medium-volatile coal beds are known to vary from 80 to 445 cubic feet per ton (cft) of coal with regional in-place reserves of about 60 tcf. The high-volatile "B" Pittsburgh coal bed of north-central West Virginia, in spite of relatively lower methane content and shallow overburden, is considered the most promising target of West Virginia's northern coalfield. In West Virginia's southern coalfield, the low-volatile No. 3 Pocahontas coal bed usually contains the most methane per unit volume. In many places, shallow overburden and extensive mining have contributed to methane depletion from remaining virgin coal. Gas contents of central Appalachian low-, medium-, and high-volatile coal beds range from 125 to 450 cft with regional in-place reserves of 5 to 48 tcf. While methane contents and production histories of the Pittsburgh and the No. 3 Pocahontas coal beds may be compiled from published sources, sufficient geographic and geologic data needed to subregionally or locally evaluate the methane potential of West Virginia's other numerous coal beds is currently not available through public domain databases. Relevant methane information about West Virginia's deep (greater than 1000 ft below stream drainage) coal beds is similarly scarce. The Coal Section of the West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey is using public-domain stratigraphic and geologic information, coal-quality data, and available gas content figures to identify areas most favorable for coalbed methane exploration in West Virginia.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90998 AAPG Eastern Section Meeting, London, Ontario, Canada, September 10-12, 1990