The Walloon Coal Measure (WCM) in the Surat Basin in Australia consists of coal-rich mire and a fine-grained meandering fluvial system. The main gas producing targets of WCM are numerous thin coal plies within six coal members with frequent pinching outs, splitting and merging. The geology is stratigraphically complex making correlations of individual coal plies difficult. Consequently, previous geological studies have been mostly based on coal members instead of individual coal plies resulting in inadequate description of the heterogeneity of the coal deposit.

To remedy this situation, we proposed a workflow using high-resolution sequence stratigraphy to build an isochronic stratigraphy framework of sublayers and coal plies by utilizing all available data from cores and logs. The key methodology was to identify single fining-upwards cycles with coal, clay or siltstone at the top and sandstone at the base. Then similarity analysis on the cycles was used to identify aggradation, progradation or retrogradation of fluvial facies sequence between adjacent wells. Log density cutoff was used to identify coal, shaly coal, shale, sandstone and siltstone from the whole Walloon fluvial system. Reservoir parameters including gas, ash, moisture content, density, and permeability versus depth were correlated taking into consideration depth shift, regional core data and lithology in different members. All of the above were integrated into a ply-based geomodel which was used to identify highly concentrated, overlapping, continuous plies that are potential sweet pots for field development. Our intent is to provide analogue information and understanding for the coal seam distribution in the green field development of the Surat Basin.

This methodology was applied to WCM to perform division and correlation of 20 sub-layers and 125 single plies with thickness ranging from 0.3–1.4 m. Coal distribution area versus thickness relationship was generated to analyze the variogram range used for some key properties, especially density and net-to-gross, and to investigate the impact of coal continuity on well spacing. Five micro-facies in fluvial system were used to describe the distribution of coal properties, impact of coal architecture and heterogeneity. Several potential sweet spots for field development were identified. With proper upscaling, this high-resolution ply-based model can be used in reservoir simulation to forecast production and calculate estimated ultimate recovery (EUR).

This methodology has been applied to three coalbed methane (CBM) fields in the Surat Basin in Australia. It is novel in applying high-resolution sequence stratigraphy used in geomodel building of convention oil and gas reservoirs to CBM characterization. It has resulted in a better understanding of the complex depositional character of the WCM and consequently more accurate determination of potential sweet spots, production forecast and EUR calculation.

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