Coalbed Methane Development: Will the Success Continue?
Duda, John R. and Charles W. Byrer
U.S. Department of Energy, Morgantown, WV
Advances in science and technology, and supportive governmental policies have fostered the production of significant volumes of coalbed methane (CBM) in the U.S. Natural gas produced from coal seams contributed nearly 9 percent of Lower-48 supplies in 2002 or 1.6 Tcf. CBM proved reserves amount to over 10 percent of all Lower-48 proved reserves. Resources [CBM] are substantial and commonly reported to be in excess of 400 Tcf. And, at least one estimate suggests that another 1,000 Tcf of CBM resource exists in Alaskan basins.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s latest energy forecast indicates that natural gas supplies from unconventional sources (low-permeability sands, shales, and coalbed natural gas) will outpace supplies from conventional sources as soon as 2006. Within this scenario, CBM production is expected to increase to slightly more than 2 Tcf per year within the forecast period, which extends to2025. Similar to historic production, projections indicate that most new production [CBM] will come from Rocky Mountain basins, which have yielded 80+ percent of annual supplies.
Multiple and some highly contentious issues exist, however, that may limit or delay cost effective development of new CBM resources. These issues are varied and include: access to resources, exhaustive environmental planning and permitting, environmental impact mitigation, natural gas markets, new business practices, and legal proceedings. A case study approach is used to discuss these potential impediments. Strategies for successful CBM project development are also outlined and include: comprehensive planning, early stakeholder involvement, and implementing value-added, complementary activities.
AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90031©2004 AAPG Eastern Section Meeting, Columbus, Ohio, October 3-5, 2004