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Abstract: Coal bed Methane Potential In Venezuela--The Forgotten Resource

A. R. Vasquez-Herrera, S. R. Bereskin, J. D. McLennan

In nations already possessing riches of hydrocarbons situated in conventional reservoirs, evaluation of coal-bearing sequences for potential gas is logically delayed or ignored. Nonetheless, Venezuelan coals have long been recognized as stratigraphically associated with oil accumulations, but because coalbed methane (CBM) is a relatively new worldwide phenomenon, CBM potential has not been widely assessed in the country.

Two general areas contain vast accumulations of coal for potential CBM activity: (1) the Maracaibo basin, containing the Guasare (northwest), Lobatera-Santo Domingo (southwest) and Urumaco (northeast) districts; and (2) the Oficina basin in eastern Venezuela possessing abundant accumulations related to the Faja Petrolifera de Orinoco (Orinoco Oil Belt). In both basins, high volatile bituminous and lignitic coals of mostly Oligo-Miocene age are abundantly found. Older coals are also present especially in the Maracaibo area.

Two factors represent powerful incentives for CBM exploitation: addition of known reserves for economic considerations, and aid in bringing heavy crude oil to the surface by additional gas lift and oil viscosity reduction. Other favorable factors important for CBM methodology include: (1) abundant coals lying above known conventional reservoir targets; (2) .6 - 1% vitrinite reflectance measurements in the Orinoco Oil Belt; (3) many coals occurring above 1500 m; (4) documented mine explosions especially in the 1920s and 1930s; (5) a strong tectonic overprint to perhaps add shear fractures to already cleated coals; (6) individual coal thickness up to 12 m with averages in the .8 m range; and (7) gas shows while drilling coal-rich intervals.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90951©1996 AAPG International Conference and Exhibition, Caracas, Venezuela