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Glossary:

 Coal cleat: are naturally occurring orthogonal joints in coal. They occur as two
perpendicular sets of fractures. The dominant cleat is called the "face cleat." The
subordinate cleat, called the “butt cleat,” forms at near right angles to the
face cleat in the minimum stress orientation.
 CBM: Coalbed Methane.
 Coal seam - a bed of coal usually thick enough to be profitably mined.
 Well test- is simply a period of time during which the production of the well is
measured, either at the well head with portable well test equipment, or in a
production facility.
 SRP –Sucker rod pump.
 PCP - progressing cavity pump.
 Dewatering is the process of draining a perforated area that is flooded with
water.
 Scm/day: standard cubic meter per day.
Index

Overview .......................................................................................................................... 3

Introduction ...................................................................................................................... 3

Equipment and Setups: ..................................................................................................... 4

Operating conditions ........................................................................................................ 9

Operating procedures ...................................................................................................... 10

Challenges ...................................................................................................................... 12

Conclusion ...................................................................................................................... 13
Overview

The present report aims to describe the observed on the field excursion to the ONGC’s
CBM Plant in Bokaro, Jharkhand, Jharia block, on the 31th March, 2019 with special
focus to the operating procedures, operating conditions, challenges observed, equipment
and setups used.

The visit had an approximate duration of 2 hours from the arriving moment at the site to
the leaving moment, where a joint team with 2 professors of the institution and 3 ONGC
operatives gave an overview of the CBM plant operation with emphasis to the
machinery used, extracting procedure, treatment and further forwarding of the extracted
hydrocarbon.

Introduction

CBM – an abbreviation for coalbed methane, is natural gas, predominantly methane


[CH4], generated during coal formation and adsorbed in coal. Most CBM reservoirs
contain both thermogenic and biogenic methane. This natural gas is adsorbed into the
surfaces of matrix pores within the coal and natural fractures, or cleats, as reservoir
pressure increases.

Production of natural gas from coal requires decreasing the pore pressure below the
coal’s desorption pressure so that methane will desorb from surfaces, diffuse through
the coal matrix and become free gas. Because the diffusivity and permeability of the
coal matrix are ultralow, coal must have an extensive cleat system to ensure adequate
permeability and flow of methane to wellbores at economic production rates.

Coal seams are typically saturated with water. Consequently, the coal must be
dewatered for efficient gas production. Dewatering reduces the hydrostatic pressure and
promotes gas desorption from coal. As dewatering progresses, gas production often
increases at a rate governed by how quickly gas desorbs from coal, the permeability of
the cleat and the relative permeability of the gas-water system in the cleat. Eventually,
the rate and amount of gas desorption decreases as the coal seam is depleted of its gas,
and production declines.

Coal seams with no water (dry coal) have been discovered and commercially exploited.
In these reservoirs, the adsorbed gas is held in place by free gas in the cleats.
Consequently, gas production consists of both free gas from the cleat system and
desorbed gas from the matrix.
Equipment and Setups:

The CBM plant is currently using the following setups and machinery:

1. Sucker rod pump (SRP) - An artificial-lift pumping system using a surface


power source to drive a downhole pump assembly (Fig. 1). A beam and crank
assembly creates reciprocating motion in a sucker-rod string that connects to the
downhole pump assembly. The pump contains a plunger and valve assembly to
convert the reciprocating motion to vertical fluid movement.

Advantages:

 High energy efficiency.


 Simple, rugged equipment.
 Easy automation if prime mover is electric.
 High salvage value of the surface equipment.

Unsuitable conditions:

 High viscous oil.


 Inclined well bore.
 Sandy crude oil production.
 High GOR wells.
 Greater well depth

2. Wellhead: The wellhead is the unit at the surface of a well which controls pressure
and connects to drilling and production equipment (Fig 1). The wellhead sits on top
of the actual oil or gas well leading down to the reservoir.
3. Fire extinguisher: a portable device that discharges a jet of water, foam, gas, or
other material to extinguish a fire (Fig. 1).
4. Water discharge tube: rubber tube connected to the production tubing for water
discharge.
Sucker rod pump

Wellhead

Fire extinguisher
Water discharge tube

Fig. 1: SRP, Wellhead assembly

5. Filtration and stabilization unit: set of pipeline, valves, chokes, manifolds, filters
and gauges, where rate of expansion of gas is controlled, filtration for fine particles
in gas is carried out, primary gas - water separation occurs and subsequent
transportation of the gas to the separator is carried out (Fig. 2 and 3).

Fig. 2: Filtration and stabilization unit Fig. 3: Gas filter


6. Water flow meter: is the instrument used for measuring the amount of free
water being produced and consequently disposed (Fig. 4).

Fig. 4: Water flow meter

7. Two (2) – phase Separator: A vessel that separates the well fluids into gas and
total liquid (water in this case). The gas leaves the vessel at the top, passing through
a mist extractor to remove the small liquid droplets in the gas (Fig. 5).
8. Well tester: is it equipment used to perform a well test or to test the productivity of
the well at any particular moment. It tests the rate of production of water and/or gas
at any moment when needed. This equipment is not of regular use. It is used when
such information are required (Fig. 5).
9. Pipeline manifold: converging unit for a set of pipeline coming from different
producing wells around the separator. The manifold is used to transfer the produced
hydrocarbon into the separator and further transportation for the compression unit
(Fig. 5).
Two-phase Separator Manifold
Well tester

Fig. 5: Separator unit

10. Progressing cavity pump (PCP) - is a positive displacement pump that evolved
from the helical gear pump concept that is used for artificial lift (Fig. 6), and have
been adapted to a range of challenging lift situations (e.g., heavy oil, high sand
production, gassy wells, directional or horizontal wells).

Operating characteristics and apllications:

 High overall system energy efficiency, typically in the 55 to 75% range.


 Ability to produce high concentrations of sand or other produced solids.
 Ability to tolerate high percentages of free gas.
 No valves or reciprocating parts to clog, gas lock, or wear.
 Good resistance to abrasion.
 Low internal shear rates (limits fluid emulsification through agitation).
 Relatively low power costs and continuous power demand (prime mover capacity
fully utilized).
 Relatively simple installation and operation.
 Generally low maintenance.

 Low profile surface equipment.


 Low surface noise levels.
But also present limitations such as:

 Limited production rates.


 Limited lift capacity.
 Limited temperature capability.
 Sensitivity to fluid environment (stator elastomer may swell or deteriorate on
exposure to certain fluids, including well treatment fluids).
 Subject to low volumetric efficiency in wells producing substantial quantities of
gas.
 Sucker rod strings may be susceptible to fatigue failures.
 Pump stator may sustain permanent damage if pumped dry for even short
periods.
 Rod-string and tubing wear can be problematic in directional and horizontal
wells.
 Most systems require the tubing to be pulled to replace the pump.
 Vibration problems may occur in high-speed applications (mitigation may
require the use of tubing anchors and stabilization of the rod string).
 Paraffin control can be an issue in waxy crude applications.

Fig. 6: PCP
11. Compressor unit: helps the transportation process of natural gas from one location
to another (Fig. 7). The gas in compressor stations is normally pressurized by
special turbines, motors and engines. Compressor stations enable the natural gas
itself to travel through the pipelines or transportations units, which is crucial to
the natural gas transport system. They also allow the gas to be rerouted into
storage areas during periods of low demand. This unit compresses the gas so that
it can fit into special cylinders for transportation.
12. Transportation units: trucks fitted with special big dimension cylinders that are fed
the compressed CBM and transport the gas to other locations by land (Fig. 8).

Fig. 7: Compressor unit Fig. 8: Transportation unit

Operating conditions

The ONGC Bokaro’s CBM plant is operating 24 hours per day, through any climacteric
condition (sun, rain, wind or fog). Its personnel are on site 24 hours per day to guarantee
smooth operations and clear any contretemps and work in shifts. In case of any
emergency, there are fire units, fire extinguishers at various points of production and
ambulances on site as well with professionals to handle them. Also an assembly point is
set near the gates of the plant for quick reunion of the team in case of an emergency, or
in case communications be inoperative or any other event where rapid meeting of
personnel is required. The housing for the crews is set at a safe distance from the plant
main hazardous points for security reasons.

All personnel are required to wear a proper vest, boots and a helmet while operating the
equipment for safety purposes, as well as they are required to observe and follow all the
safety norms implied for smoothness of all operations and their own safety.

Periodic inspections of the equipment are carried out to ensure that those are working
efficiently and do not impose any danger of failure while operating.
Operating procedures

There are currently 8 wells under exploration in the Jharia block, of which 5 of them are
producing and 3 of them are currently under trial. All of the wells are shallow wells
with depth ranging from 600m to 1200m. The producing wells produce relative low
amounts of water as compared to the wells under trial, which imply that management of
the wells under trial require redoubled attention due to the high volumes of water being
produced. Numerical figures are show in the tables below:

Producing wells:

Well name: Gas produced: Water produced:


(scm/day) (m3/day)
JH #01 4000 to 5000 3 to 4
JH #01A 4000 to 5000 4 to 4
JH#02 6000 10
JH#03 2000 3 to 4
JH#04 9000 20 to 30

Wells under trial:

Well name: Gas produced: Water produced:


(scm/day) (m3/day)
JH#09 6000 50
JH#10 2000 70
JH#15 6000 70

The extraction begins by dewatering the reservoir, process in which the water is pumped
out of the coal pore space, to allow the desorption of the CBM which is initially trapped
and dissolved within the coal pore space. This happens because when water is removed
from within the cleats and pore space, the pressure falls, until a critical pressure is
reached (below the saturation pressure), in which the gas will be free from the coal
interface allowing it to flow as soon as it reaches its critical saturation.
The water removed from the coal is pumped out through the production tubing and gas
is allowed to flow through the annular space.

Out of the 8 wells being explored in the Jharia block, 5 of them are using SRPs to pump
out the water (offer better performance in terms of operating costs) and the other 3 are
using PCPs to pump out the water. Once the water is out of the well, it goes through a
rubber tube into the filtration and stabilization unit, from which it is passed through a
flow meter and then disposed into a nearby pond.

The water produced has been tested in laboratory and is free of contaminants, which
allows the direct disposal without the need of any prior treatment. Since the evaporation
rates of that water is faster than the production rate, there is no need of constant
monitoring of the water levels in the disposal pond.

The gas produced in turn is flown to the filtration and stabilization units through
underground pipeline for safety purposes. Once at the filtration and stabilization unit,
the expansion rate is regulated through chokes to a desired pressure, and then is passed
through a gas filter for fine coal particles that might have been produced along with gas.
Once filtration is done, the gas coming from different wells is again transported through
underground pipelines to a manifold near the separator that collects all the gas into a
single pipe that feeds the separator.

The separator used is a two – phase separator designed to separate the water from the
gas. Once separation process is complete, the water is evacuated from the bottom of the
separator to the disposal pond nearby, and the gas in turn is evacuated from a single
pipe at the top of the separator. The gas leaving the separator is kept and transported at a
pressure of 1.5 to 2 Kg/cm2 through the pipeline that is directly connected to a
compressor unit that compresses the gas at a pressure of 250 Kg/cm2, and the
compressed gas is then fed to the transportation cylinders fitted at the transportation
units or transportation trucks.

Although the wells can produce over 25000 scm of gas per day as a whole, for
optimization purposes, the whole production is kept from 15000 to 20000 scm/day.
Challenges

Heard from the field operatives, working on a CBM field require a high sense of
responsibility, good management skills, quick and efficient thinking, ability to work
under stressful situations, ability to solve problems which may arise at any moment,
ability to withstand difficult weather conditions (intensive sun, rain and cold),
awareness that danger is always around the corner and most of all, ability to work in
team.
Conclusion

CBM is formed during coal generation and then absorbed into the coal. Although CBM
is mostly formed from thermogenic processes, some amounts of biogenic CBM can also
be found. CBM is extracted by dewatering the coal seam. Reducing the hydrostatic
pressure, allowing the gas desorption from the coal interfaces. In older days, CBM was
viewed as not of great importance, but in recent times, the need for more energy
catapulted the industry, and the uses of CBM have grown substantially. CBM is almost
mainly methane, which can have many applications.

The extraction process of CBM follows similar stages as of extraction of other


hydrocarbon types, with the difference than gas is not free to flow initially, therefore
dewatering of the reservoir is carried out to free the gas.

Following processes include filtration for fine coal particles, separation of water from
the gas and further compression for commercial use.

Visiting the field gave us an overview of what processes the extraction of hydrocarbon
follows, including the realization how field work is, with the challenges, dangers,
sacrifices and all key points to broadly understand the role the petroleum industry.