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Appalachian Basin Coal-Bed Methane: Elephant or Flea?

HUNT, AMANDA M., Dames and Moore, Cincinnati, OH

Historically, interest in the Appalachian basin coal-bed methane resource extends at least over the last 50 years. The Northern and Central Appalachian basins are estimated to contain 61 tcf and 5 tcf of coal-bed methane gas, respectively. Development of this resource

has not kept pace with that of other basins, such as the Black Warrior basin of Alabama or the San Juan basin of northern New Mexico and Colorado. Without the benefit of modern completion, stimulation, and production technology, some older Appalachian basin coal-bed methane wells were reported to have produced in excess of 150 Mcf/day from single coal seams. Publicly available data have been used here to characterize some past projects and their results. This work is not intended to comprise a comprehensive survey of all Appalachian basin projects, but rather to provide background information from which to proceed for those who may be interested in doing so. Several constraints to the development of this resource have been identified, including conflicting legal rights of ownership of the gas produced from the coal seams when coal and conventional oil and gas rights are controlled by separate parties. In addition, large leaseholds have been difficult to acquire and finding costs have been high. However, the threshold of minimum economic production may be relatively low when compared with other areas, because low-pressure pipelines are available and gas prices are among the highest in the nation. Interest in the commercial development of the resource seems to be on the increase with several projects currently active and more reported to be planned for the near future.


AAPG Search and Discovery Article #91005 © 1991 Eastern Section Meeting, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, September 8-10, 1991 (2009)