Structure, Sedimentology, Coal Quality and Hydrology of the Black Warrior Basin in Alabama: Controls on the Occurrence and Produciliblity of Coalbed Methane

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Geologic evaluation of critical production parameters in the Black Warrior basin employed an interdisciplinary approach that utilized structural, sedimentologic, coal-quality, hydrologic, completion, and production data. Results indicate that geologic structure affected sedimentation, coalification, hydrogeology, and the ultimate occurrence and producibility of coalbed methane. Geologic trend analysis was used to characterize regional coalbed-methane potential, and results indicate that many parts of the basin have untapped resources. Some highly productive trends coincide with northeast-trending structures that apparently are zones of enhanced fracture permeability. Water-production data indicate that many high-permeability trends exist that are not associated with exceptional coalbed-methane production and that the coal beds are structurally compartmentalized reservoirs. Water-level data indicate that all highly productive coalbed-methane wells occur where reservoir pressure has been lowered significantly. Therefore, highly productive areas apparently represent structural compartments where formation pressure has been lowered enough to facilitate desorption of a large quantity of methane. Results of this research suggest that completion technology and field design can be tailored to specific geologic settings to produce from reservoir compartments that are readily depressurized, thereby optimizing reservoir drainage.


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