Of a relatively marginal significance for the conventional oil & natural gas industry, coal bed methane (CMB)has been particularly promoted in some specific coal oriented-countries (USA, China, UK), despite constraints linked to environmental concerns. Papers will concentrate on the technical challenges of projects in countries such as USA, Poland, China and the UK and other former coal production countries utilising CO2 sequestration to promote gas production whilst gaining credit for carbon storage.
Canada has over 700 Tcf of CBM resource in place, with over half of this resource in Alberta and the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin (WCSB).1-4 Starting in late 2001, commercial production of CBM in Canada began with the "dry" Horseshoe Canyon CBM play in Alberta.5 Today, there are over 4,000 CBM wells in Canada, with over 2,000 tied in and producing over 200 MMcf/D. With over 3,000 wells planned for 2005, year-end rates are expected to reach up to 500 MMcf/D by year-end 2005 and several thousand future wells are estimated to produce over 2 Bcf/D by 2015 and over 3 Bcf/D by 2025.6-7 With current Canadian natural gas production at ~17 Bcf/D, this represents up to 20% of Canada's future gas deliverability, assuming negligible growth in total production. In addition to adding to Canada's gas production, Canadian CBM reservoirs may also prove to be an effective "sink" for disposing of excess CO2 production. The Alberta Research Council (ARC) has been conducting basic and applied research in this area since 1996 and currently has three projects ongoing, including two in the field. In addition to storing excess CO2, these processes have the potential of enhancing CBM production by up to 40% in low permeability reservoirs. With CBM production well established in North America, there is potential to enhance CBM production and dispose of CO2 simultaneously in the future, a true "win-win" association. With significant CBM resources being evaluated around the world, including China, India, Australia, eastern Europe, and elsewhere, there is potential for technology transfer to not only produce significant CBM, but to develop sinks for excess CO2 production as well.
Figure 1 shows the major coal basins in Canada. The Geologic Survey of Canada (GSC), the Alberta Geologic Survey (AGS), and the British Columbia Ministry of Energy and Mines (BC MEM)estimate there is over 700 Tcf of CBM resource in Canada, with over 500 Tcf in Alberta (AB) and 90 Tcf in British Columbia (BC) alone.1-4 Figure 2 shows the major CBM target formations in Alberta, including the Mannville coals (267 Tcf resource), Horseshoe Canyon and Belly River coals (66 Tcf resource), the Ardley coals (53 Tcf resource)and others. Figure 3 shows the major CBM basins in BC, with about 90 Tcf distributed in the NE BC portion of the WCSB, SE BC, inter-mountain basins, and Vancouver Island. The remaining coals with CBM potential are in Saskatchewan, the Yukon and Northwest Territories, and Nova Scotia. Despite the presence of this large resource, until late 2001, there was no significant CBM production in Canada.