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A History of Fruitland Formation Coal-Bed Methane Development

 in the San Juan Basin, New Mexico and Colorado


Tom Dugan

Dugan Production Corporation, Farmington, NM


Fruitland Formation coal-bed methane (CBM) production in the San Juan Basin began in 1951 with the Ignacio Blanco-Fruitland gas field near Ignacio, Colorado. This field produced gas from Fruitland Formation coal beds on a structural trap, the Ignacio Anticline. This gas was never referred to as CBM. In 1953, the San Juan 32-7 Unit No. 6 well was completed in the lower Fruitland Formation in the northern New Mexico part of the basin. This was a famous well in the basin because its gas production gradually increased, leveled off, and then produced at a constant rate for more than 30 years. No one realized that this well was producing desorbing CBM. In 1970 the WAW field was discovered by Dugan Production Corporation in the southern San Juan Basin. This field produced modest amounts of commingled gas from the Pictured Cliffs Sandstone and Fruitland coal beds. This gas was not referred to as CBM. In 1977, Amoco Production Company discovered the Cedar Hill field that produced CBM from Fruitland coal beds. Amoco was the first company in the Western US daring enough to produce large amounts of water from coal beds to stimulate CBM production. In 1980, the Crude Oil Windfall Profits Tax Act was passed which provided a tax credit for CBM and triggered a Fruitland CBM drilling boom that has created the world’s largest CBM field with a present cumulative production of 9 TCFG, annual production of 0.9 TCFG, and original gas-in-place resources estimated at about 55 TCFG.


AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90004©2002 AAPG Rocky Mountain Section, Laramie, Wyoming