Recent Coal Bed Methane Activity in West Virginia
Avary, Katharine Lee
West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey, Morgantown, WV
Rules related to coal bed methane drilling and production (West Virginia code§22-21-1 et. seq.) took effect on June 1, 1996. Enactment of these rules has made modern coal bed methane exploration and development possible. A coal bed methane review board was set up to resolve disputes related to proposed CBM wells.
West Virginia’s historic coal bed methane production, mostly from the northern part of the State (Big Run and Pine Grove fields) began in 1932 with an accidental discovery of methane from the Pittsburgh coal as a well was being plugged. The Pittsburgh continues to be an important target in northern WV, for gob production and horizontal and vertical wells in areas where the Pittsburgh is considered too deep to be mined.
In 1989, US Steel began a program of gas production ahead of mining, in Wyoming and McDowell counties. The gas production part of this effort was spun off to a new company, CDX Gas, LLC. The wells, producing from the Pocahontas 3 seam, have evolved from simple, vertical boreholes to elaborate, tree-shaped multilateral horizontal holes. Total reported production from this project is about 20 Bcf through 2002. This technology has been migrated to western CBM basins such as the San Juan.
Over 375 new CBM wells have been drilled in WV and additional wells continue to be permitted. More than 25 Bcf of gas has been reportedly produced from CBM wells from 1992-2002. Deep coal seams have potential for sequestering carbon dioxide, and a program in northern WV is evaluating Allegheny coal seams for suitability.
AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90031©2004 AAPG Eastern Section Meeting, Columbus, Ohio, October 3-5, 2004