Facilities decisions are often disconnected from anticipated reservoir performance. A frequent result of this disconnect is operating reservoirs in a sub-optimum manner to protect surface facilities that have inadequate strength. This paper will review the facilities decisions that have been made in several Coalbed Methane (CBM) and Coal Seam Gas (CSG) fields around the world and discuss the reasons for and the impact of those decisions on the performance of the reservoirs. The source of the disconnect is that "everyone knows" that CBM and CSG fields "require very low pressures". With that assumption you then apply safety and procurement principles to come to a design. There is a stage in the production life of these fields where very low pressures are required for reasonable recovery levels, but that stage is typically reached 10-15 years after first production. Setting late-life surface facilities at first-production results in choking the reservoir for over a decade, setting compression many years before it is actually required, and less ultimate recovery as a percentage of original gas in place than would otherwise be achieved. These problems can be overcome by understanding the life cycle performance and risks of an unconventional reservoir and accepting that any tradeoff between facilities performance and reservoir performance must be biased in favor of optimizing reservoir performance in order to have acceptable economic results.

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