Interest in European Coal Bed Methane (CBM), driven by an increasing demand for supplies of natural gas in Europe has been ongoing since the 1990's in the UK, Belgium, Germany, France and Poland.

The nature of Carboniferous age European coals: multiple, thinner coal seams with lower permeability than coals seen in Australia or North America has resulted in a horizontal well or multi lateral wellbore architecture employing geosteering through the coal seams. Use of a conventional directional drilling Bottom Hole Assembly (BHA) in which the Logging While Drilling (LWD) sensors are usually 40ft or more from the drill bit, makes geosteering in structurally complex coals, with changing dip and rolling topography a major challenge. The cost sensitive nature of CBM wells makes the use of geosteering tools such as azimuthal resistivity tools uneconomic.

This paper describes the experience of Dart Energy and its heritage company, Composite Energy, in introducing an instrumented mud motor with a near bit Azimuthal Gamma Ray and Inclination tool as a cost effective geosteering aid on the Airth CBM Field in Central Scotland. The use of an instrumented mud motor enabled Dart Energy to improve geosteering performance, increasing net coal in each geosteered section, near doubling of average Rate Of Penetration (ROP), and reducing the number of time consuming and costly sidetracks.

The improvement in geosteering is a critical part of realising the commerciality of CBM wells producing from thinner, structurally complex Carboniferous age coals found in the UK and Northern Europe.

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