In coal-seam-gas (CSG) fields, where single wells tap multiple seams, it is likely that some of the individual seams hardly contribute to gas recovery. This study aims to examine the contribution of individual seams to the total gas and water production considering that each seam can have different properties and dimensions. A sensitivity analysis using reservoir simulation investigates the effects of individual seam properties on production profiles.
A radial model simulates the production of a single CSG well consisting of a stack of two seams with a range of properties for permeability, thickness, seam extent, initial reservoir pressure, coal compressibility and porosity. The stress dependency of permeability obeys the Palmer and Mansoori (1998) model. A time coefficient (α) relates seam radius, viscosity, porosity, fracture compressibility, and permeability. It is used to aid interpretation of the sensitivity study. Finally, two hypothetical simulation scenarios with five seams of different thicknesses and depths obtained from producing wells are explored. The range in properties represents conditions found in the Walloon Coal Measures (WCM) of the Surat Basin, relevant to the Australian CSG industry.
Each seam in the stack achieves its peak production rate at different times, and this can be estimated using α. Seams with lower α reach the peak gas rate earlier than those with higher α-coefficient. The distinct behavior of gas-production profiles depends on the combination of individual seam properties and multiseam interaction. At a αratio > 1 (i.e., αtop/αbottom > 1), the bottom seam peaks first but achieves lower gas recovery than the top seam. An increasing αratio is associated with the inhibition of less-permeable seams and reduced overall well productivity. For αratio < 1, the top seam experiences fast depletion and total gas-production rates decrease drastically. This outcome is confirmed by a more realistic scenario with a higher number of coal layers. Poor combination of seams leads to severe production inhibition of some coal reservoirs and possible wellbore crossflow. The contrast of the seam-lateral extent in the stack and fracture compressibility play an important role in well productivity in the commingled operation of a stack of coal seams. Unfortunately, the lateral extent of individual coal seams is difficult to estimate and poorly known and, therefore, represents a major uncertainty in gas-production prognosis. The αratio analysis is a useful tool to gain understanding of modeled well productivity from commingled CSG reservoirs.