Pennsylvanian Bituminous Coal, North-Central Texas: Potential for Coalbed Methane Resource Development

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Most recent U.S. Geological Survey National Coal Resources Data System (NCRDS) activities completed for the State of Texas by the Bureau of Economic Geology (BEG) focused on Wilcox Group deep coal (lignite) resources, including "Defining coalbed methane exploration fairways in East-Central Texas" (Tyler and Scott, 1999) and "Deep-basin coal (lignite) in Wilcox Group, Sabine Uplift, East Texas: potential for unconventional coalbed methane resource development" (Kim and Ruppel, 2001). The major objectives of these projects were to provide high-quality, organized digital information and interpretations on the location, quality, and quantity of the coal to be mined in the Wilcox Group, Texas Gulf Coast area, during the next several decades to meet the needs of the region and the nation for reliable, low-cost, environmentally compatible energy.

The first commercial coalbed methane field in Texas, the Sacatosa coal bed methane field in Maverick County, was announced in 2001 by The Exploration Company. This field is currently being produced from bituminous coal and carbonaceous shale of the Upper Cretaceous Olmos Formation in the Maverick Basin. Although the Pennsylvanian bituminous coals of North-Central Texas are of higher rank than the Texas Gulf Coast lignites and are comparable to the most bituminous coals, very little current information exists on their occurrence, distribution, geological setting, or future potential for coalbed methane development. More detailed and updated information of the coal resource in this region is essential for inclusion in the NCRDS, utilizing digital databases of available data as well as digitized maps compiled in a Geographic Information System (GIS) platform. Providing updated digital data on the Pennsylvanian bituminous coals of North-Central Texas and assessing their potential for future coalbed methane resource development are the major objectives for this current study. Major accomplishments for FY02 included digitally compiling major background regional data for Pennsylvanian depositional systems and major coal resources such as the Strawn (Thurber) coals, as well as a comparison with current coalbed methane production from Olmos bituminous coals in the Maverick Basin. Future FY03 tasks to be completed include analysis of other coal resources such as the Canyon (Bridgeport) and Cisco (Newcastle) coals, as well as an overall future assessment of the coalbed methane potential of the Pennsylvanian bituminous coals of North-Central Texas.


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