Coalbed methane now accounts for a significant fraction of domestic natural-gas production. Injection of carbon dioxide (CO2) into coal seams is a promising technology for reducing anthropogenic greenhouse-gas emissions and increasing ultimate production of coalbed methane. Reservoir simulations are an inexpensive method for designing field projects and predicting optimal tradeoffs between maximum sequestration and maximum methane production. Optimum project design and operation are expected to depend on the anisotropy of the permeability along the face-cleat and butt-cleat directions, the spacing between cleats, and the sorption isotherms for methane and CO2.
In this work, a dual-porosity coalbed-methane simulator is used to model primary and secondary production of methane from coal for a variety of coal properties and operational parameters. It is assumed that the face and butt cleats are perpendicular to each other, with horizontal wells parallel to one type of cleat and perpendicular to the other. The well pattern consists of four horizontal production wells that form a rectangle, with four shorter horizontal wells centered within the rectangle. In the limiting case of no permeability anisotropy, the central wells form a "plus" sign within the square of production wells. All wells are operated as producers of methane and water until a specified reservoir pressure is reached, after which the central wells are operated as injectors for CO2. Production of methane continues until the CO2 concentration in the produced gas is too high.
The simulation results predict the optimum lengths of the injection wells along the face- and butt-cleat directions and show how these optimum lengths depend on the permeabilities in the two directions. If the cleat spacing is sufficiently small, and diffusion of the gas through the pores to the cleats is sufficiently rapid, instantaneous sorption may be assumed. Otherwise, the field performance depends on the diffusion-time constant that characterizes the rate of transfer between the cleats and the coal matrix. The pressures at which the injection wells are operated also affect the amounts of CO2 sequestered through the pressures and volumes of the sorption isotherms.