Coalbed Methane Potential of the Greater Green River, Piceance, Powder River and Raton Basins

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Tyler, Roger
Ambrose, William A.  
Scott, Andrew R.
Kaiser, W. R.

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Coalbed methane potential of the Greater Green River, Piceance, Powder River, and Raton Basins was evaluated in the context of geologic and hydrologic characteristics identified in the San Juan Basin, the nation's leading coalbed methane producing basin. The major comparative criteria were (1) coalbed methane resources, (2) geologic and hydrologic factors that predict areas of high gas producibility and high coalbed reservoir permeability, and (3) coalbed thermal maturity. These technical criteria were expanded to include structure, depositional systems, and database and then combined with economic criteria (production, industry activity, and pipeline availability) to evaluate the coalbed methane potential of the basins.

The Greater Green River and Piceance Basins have primary potential to make a significant near-term contribution to the nation's gas supply. These basins have large gas resources, high-rank coals, high gas contents, and established coalbed methane production. The Greater Green River Basin has numerous coalbed methane targets, good coal-seam permeability, and extensive hydrologic areas favorable for production. The Powder River and Raton Basins were judged to have secondary potential. Coal beds in the Powder River Basin are thermally immature and produce large volumes of water; the Raton Basin has a poor database and has no gas pipeline infrastructure. Low production and minimal industry activity further limit the near-term potential of the Raton Basin. However, if economic criteria are discounted and only major technical criteria are considered, the Greater Green River and Raton Basins are assigned primary potential. The Raton Basin's shallow, thermally mature coal beds of good permeability are attractive coalbed methane targets, but low coal-seam permeability limits the coalbed methane potential of the Piceance Basin.


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