The Illinois Basin has an estimated 21 Tcf of natural gas trapped in the coal seams that cover Illinois and Indiana. A Saline County, Illinois coalbed methane (CBM) project has been selling gas into pipelines. The authors describe the evaluation plan used to set up a pilot project and proceed into field development.

A step-wise program of gathering reservoir data preceded a successful pilot program where gas-content information, thickness maps, and adsorption isotherms were acquired and integrated into a Davis and Dekoven drilling program. Gas producibility was established from a five-spot pilot (five wells drilled in a field to help operators evaluate the CBM commercial potential of the field) leading to a 30-well development program in 2004. Well information presented includes spacing, orientation, reservoir parameters, and completion designs. The description of a remote monitoring system that reduces labor costs and provides real-time data via the Internet is also provided. Future expansion plans include additional testing and zonal completions.

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