Abstract: Coalbed Methane in Kentucky
CHESNUT, D. R., JR., B. C. NUTTALL, C. F. EBLE, J. C. HOWER, S. F. GREBB, and J. K. HIETT
Kentucky has two bituminous coal fields, the Eastern Kentucky Coal Field in the Appalachian basin, and the Western Kentucky Coal Field in the Illinois basin. Early studies incorrectly suggested that Kentucky had little potential for coalbed methane (CBM) because there were no deep coals and the gas content and rank of near-surface coals were low.
A survey of new and existing data suggests that there is a significant potential for CBM resources in Kentucky. Historic information from gas well records and State mining records provide evidence of significant CBM in both of Kentucky's coal fields. The stratigraphic and structural framework of the coal fields indicate that a large number of coals lie as deep as 2,000 ft (610 m). Vitrinite reflectance data indicate that coal rank is sufficient for CBM production. Calculations using coal quality data suggest that economic quantities of CBM exist.
In the Eastern Kentucky Coal Field much of this historic coal production has been from surface and drift mines in coal beds lying above valley bottoms. Because of the gently rolling topography of the Western Kentucky Coal Field, most of the deep mining has been by slope or shaft methods. As near-surface or above-drainage coals are depleted, producing CBM from deeper coals could reduce the risk of mine explosions and provide new gas supplies for local and regional markets. Several gas exploration and coal companies have begun programs to explore for CBM in the State. This development would be facilitated if government and industry begin supporting research to examine the gas content and production potential of Kentucky's deeper coals.
AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90939©1997 AAPG Eastern Section and TSOP, Lexington, Kentucky