In the past few decades, Coal-Bed Methane (CBM) has become an important source of energy especially in North America. The methane adsorbed within the coal is in a near-liquid state. The open fractures in the cleats are commonly saturated with water. In developing the CBM reservoir, water in the fracture spaces and coal seam must be continuously pumped off from coal seam. This reduces pressure and desorbs gas from matrix.

Although operators desire to produce hydrocarbon quickly, a too fast dewatering rate can irreversibly damage matrix desorption process, which can lead to an unfavorable ultimate recovery. Further, the aggressive production rate can potentially release the coal fines and drive them into pump, which increases maintenance effort and cost. Even worse, the de-watering process fluctuates because of the rock porosity and permeability changes resulting from the brittle coal seam and pressure reduction. Therefore, it is critical to adjust the pump operating parameters in a timely manner to maintain a continuous/intermittent production.

The 10 CBM wells at study locate in a mountain with difficult access. Previously engineers had to evaluate well performance and optimize the pump on-site, which is limited by a monthly basis. We firstly developed an automatic data processing system using the advanced Echosounders, which can measure the water level in real time. The reservoir pressure can be then monitored dynamically through interpreting the detected water level. With an automatic-wireless data transferring system installed on-site and a closed-loop control program to receive, process, and interpret data, the pump operating parameters can be changed in real time through remote control. This system not only identifies the downhole problems in real time, but also reduces the pump maintenance frequency from 40 days to 75 days statistically and numbers of trip to well site. Further, the gas production rate has been averagely improved by 30% for the 10 wells.

The authors firstly developed an automation data processing and control system in the favor of advanced echosounders. Based on the interpreted reservoir pressure, we can avoid aggressive production by adjusting the pump operating parameters in real time, which eventually results in a better ultimate recovery. The developed workflow (automatic echosounder data acquisition, real filed data transferred to central office, data processing, interpretation, and simulation in computational system, adjustment commands to operating system) is especially valuable for the locations difficult to access.

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