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Production Practice of CBM

• Introduction
• Seismic
• drilling
• Logging
• Well completion
• Enhanced CBM Recovery Techniques
• Production
• Uses
• Conclusion

What Is CBM?

Coal Bed Methane is naturally occurring methane (CH4) with small amounts of other
hydrocarbon and non-hydrocarbon gases contained in coal seams as a result of chemical and
physical processes. It is often produced at shallow depths through a bore-hole that allows gas
and large volumes of water with variable quality to be produced. CBM resources represent
valuable volumes of natural gas within and outside of areas of conventional oil & gas
production. Many coal mining areas currently support CBM production; other areas containing
coal resources are expected to produce significant volumes of natural gas in the near future.

CBM is intimately associated with coal seams that represent both the source and
reservoir. Coals have an immense amount of surface area and can hold enormous quantities
of methane. Since coal seams have large internal surfaces, they can store on the order of six
to seven times more gas than the equivalent volume of rock in a conventional gas reservoir.
CBM exists in the coal in three basic states: as free gas; as gas dissolved in the water in coal;
and as gas “adsorbed” on the solid surface of the coal.

Overview of CBM

• CBM is an environmental
Friendly clean fuel with
properties similar to natural

• Coal serves as both sources as

well as the reservoir rock for

• CBM is generated within the

coal seams during ‘coalification’
Process and remains adsorbed
In the internal surface of coal

• Relatively simple

• Access to multiple
coal seams through a
single well

• Expected life of
Around 15 years

•Low pressure
Gathering systems

•Small footprint.

•Methane gas adsorbed into
coal seams that can hold 5
times as much gas as an
equivalent volume of

• Gas held in coals by

hydrostatic water pressure

• Pumping water lowers the

hydrostatic pressure and gas
desorbs from the coals in
cleats and fractures to flow to

How is CBM Produced?

CBM wells are completed in several ways, depending upon the type of coal in the basin
and fluid content. Each type of coal (sub-bituminous to bituminous) offers production options
that are different due to the inherent natural fracturing and competency of the coal seams. The
sub-bituminous coals are softer and less competent than the higher rank low-volatile
bituminous coals, and therefore are typically completed and produced using more conventional

vertical well bores. The more competent higher rank coals lend themselves to completions
using horizontal as well as vertical well bores.
Figure provides a typical well completion for CBM. The well is drilled to the top of the
target coal seam and production casing is set and cemented back to surface.

The coal seam is then drilled-out and under reamed to open up more coal face to
production. The borehole and coal face are then cleaned with a slug of formation water
pumped at a high rate (water-flush).

In areas where the cleat or natural fracture system is not fully developed, the coal may
be artificially fractured using a low-pressure water fracture treatment. These shallow wells are
typically drilled with a small mobile rig mounted on a truck.

Once the well is completed, a submersible pump is run into the well on production
tubing to pump the water from the coal seam. By removing the water from the coal seam the
formation water pressure is reduced and the methane is desorbed (released) from the coal,
thus initiating production.

Typical figure of a CBM well

The methane flows up both the casing and tubing of the well and is sent via pipe to a
gas/water separator at the compression station.
The methane is then compressed for shipment to the sales pipeline. Attempts at
producing more than one coal seam per well have been mostly unsuccessful due to the
inherent problem of lowering the water level in each coal seam independent of each other.
Size constraints of the production equipment and use of submersible pumps make the
use of dual completion complicated and expensive. With CBM production wells typically being
so shallow, it is less expensive and less complicated to drill wells into each coal seam
independently than to use dual or triple completion well systems. As water is pumped off the
coal aquifer, increasing amounts of methane are produced from the CBM wells.

What Controls CBM Production?

CBM production potential is a product of several factors that vary from basin to basin –
fracture permeability, development, gas migration, coal maturation, coal distribution, geologic
structure, CBM completion options, hydrostatic pressure and produced water management. In
most areas, naturally developed fracture networks are the most sought after areas for CBM
development. Areas where geologic structures and localized faulting have occurred tend to
induce natural fracturing, which increases the production pathways within the coal seam. This
natural fracturing reduces the cost of bringing the producing wells on line. Most coals contain
methane, but it cannot be economically produced without open fractures present to provide the
pathways for the desorbed gas to migrate to the well. As long as the pressure exerted by the
water table is greater than that of the coal the methane remains trapped in the coal bed matrix.
Coal cleats and fractures are usually saturated with water, and therefore the hydrostatic
pressure in the coal seam must be lowered before the gas will migrate.

Lowering the hydrostatic pressure in the coal seam accelerates the desorption process.
CBM wells initially produce water primarily; gas production eventually increases, and as it does
water production declines. Some wells do not produce any water and begin producing gas
immediately, depending on the nature of the fracture system. Once the gas is released, it is
usually free of any impurities; is of sufficient quality and can be easily prepared for pipeline
delivery. Some coals may never produce methane if the hydrostatic pressure cannot be
efficiently lowered. Some coal seams may produce gas, but are too deep to economically drill.
CBM wells are typically no more than 5000’ in depth, although some deeper wells have been

Fundamentals of CBM

Permeability of coal bed methane reservoir

Permeability is key factor for CBM. Coal itself is a low permeability reservoir. Almost all
the permeability of a coal bed is usually considered to be due to fractures, which in coal are in
the form of cleats. The permeability of the coal matrix is negligible by comparison. Coal cleats
are of two types: butt cleats and face cleats, which occur at nearly right angles. The face cleats

are continuous and provide paths of higher permeability while butt cleats are non-continuous
and end at face cleats. Hence, on a small scale, fluid flow through coal bed methane reservoirs
usually follows rectangular paths. The ratio of permeabilities in the face cleat direction over the
butt cleat direction may range from 1:1 to 17:1. Because of this anisotropic permeability,
drainage areas around coal bed methane wells are often elliptical in shape.


Porosity of coal bed reservoirs is usually very small ranging from 0.1 to 10%. Coal
seams are characterized by two distinctive porosity systems: a well-defined and almost
uniformly distributed network of natural fractures (cleats), and a coal matrix containing a highly
heterogeneous porous structure between the cleats. Cleats account for less than 2 percent of
the seam bulk volume. Therefore, storage of free gas in the pore spaces of coal cleats
represents a minor part of the total gas-in-place. However, the cleat porosity system is very
important in coal bed reservoirs because nearly all the reservoir permeability comes from
presence of cleats network in the coal seams. The coal matrix contains very fine pore spaces.
These pores are referred to as micro pores. It has been reported that coal micro pores can be
as small as a few nanometers in diameter. Micro pores do not contribute significantly to
permeability, but they are excellent sites for gas storage in adsorbed form. Because of coal
micro pores, it is estimated that a gram of coal may contain up to 200 square meters of internal
surface for methane adsorption. Micro pores are commonly referred to as the coal primary
porosity system whereas cleats are referred to as coal secondary porosity system caused by
geological processes such as structural deformation, differential compaction and volume

Adsorption capacity

Adsorption capacity of coal is defined as the volume of gas adsorbed per unit mass of
coal usually expressed in SCF (standard cubic feet, the volume at standard pressure and
temperature conditions) gas/ton of coal. The capacity to adsorb depends on the rank and
quality of coal. The range is usually between 100 to 800 SCF/ton for most coal seams found in
the US. Most of the gas in coal beds is in the adsorbed form. When the reservoir is put into
production, water in the fracture spaces are drained first. This leads to a reduction of pressure
enhancing desorption of gas from the matrix.

Fracture permeability
As discussed before, the fracture permeability acts as the major channel for the gas to
flow. The higher the permeability, higher is the gas production. For most coal seams found in
the US, the permeability lies in the range of 0.1 to 50 milliDarcies.

Relative Permeability in coal bed reservoir

Relative permeability is a primary parameter in determining coal bed reservoir

production characteristics. Gas and water flow in cleats are mainly controlled by relative
permeability. Therefore, an appropriate estimation of relative permeability characteristics of the
coal seam is needed to understand the reservoir performance properly.
Thickness of formation and initial reservoir pressure

The thickness of the formation may not be directly proportional to the volume of gas
produced in some areas. Some coal and or shale formations may have higher gas
concentrations regardless of formation thickness. This is likely case specific depending on
The pressure difference between the well block and the sand face should be as high as
possible as is the case with any producing reservoir in general.


The coal bed methane research has produced three key technological advances in reservoir

• An Improved Understanding of the Fundamentals of Coal bed Methane Production

• Advances in Measuring Reservoir Properties
• Advances in Reservoir Simulation

Understanding the Fundamentals of Coal bed Methane Production

initially, research focused on understanding the fundamental differences between coal bed
methane and conventional reservoirs. Later work centered on developing tools for predicting
coal bed methane production. The understanding of coal bed methane has advanced so that
reservoir engineers can evaluate new properties and manage production from existing wells
over the long term. To successfully produce coal bed methane wells, it is essential to:

1) Identify factors that control production in coal reservoirs,

2) Understand the relationship between gas content and sorption isotherm for specific
developments, and

3) Maintain low backpressure on wells to increase recovery. Each of these points is discussed

Factors that Control Production in Coal Reservoirs. Early work showed that gas is stored
in an adsorbed state on coal, and thus for a given reservoir pressure much more gas can be
stored in a coal seam than in a comparable sandstone reservoir. Production of gas is
controlled by a three step process & desorption of gas from the coal matrix, diffusion to the
cleat system, and flow through fractures. Many coal reservoirs are water saturated, and water
provides the reservoir pressure that holds gas in the adsorbed state.

Relationship Between Gas Content and Sorption Isotherm. Another mechanism that
controls production is the relationship of gas content to sorption isotherm. The sorption
isotherm defines the relationship of pressure to the capacity of a given coal to hold gas at a

constant temperature. Gas content is a measurement of the actual gas contained in a given
coal reservoir. A coal reservoir is undersaturated if the actual gas content is less than the
isotherm value at reservoir temperature and pressure. Accurate measurements of both gas
content and the isotherm are required to estimate the production profile of the well.

Maintaining Low Backpressure on Wells. The ultimate recovery of gas depends on gas
content and reservoir pressure. Gas production will not initiate until reservoir pressure falls
below the point where the gas content of the coal is in equilibrium with the isotherm. Because
most coal reservoirs are aquifers, production of water from the wellbore is the primary
mechanism of pressure reduction. If the gas content of the reservoir is below the isotherm,
then the reservoir will produce only water initially. After this single phase flow period, bubble
flow initiates when reservoir pressure reaches the saturation point on the isotherm. Eventually,
two phase flow of gas and water occurs as pressure is further reduced in the reservoir.
Because of the relationship between gas desorption and reservoir pressure, it is important to
produce coal bed methane wells at the lowest practical pressure.

Advances in Measuring Reservoir Properties. In 1982, few references were available on

testing coal bed methane wells. Today, the results of extensive field research has greatly
advanced the understanding and application of coal bed methane well testing. Much of the
knowledge used to perform and interpret coal bed methane well tests has been modified from
well testing technology used in the oil and gas industry. Research on coal bed methane well
testing has produced several useful findings:

• Coal permeability is very sensitive to stress conditions. When performing injection/falloff

tests on coal seams it is important to inject at very low rates to avoid fracturing the coal
and to minimize stress effects.
• High skin factors often are encountered when testing coal seams, especially when
testing a cemented and cased well. The high skin factor indicates poor communication
between the well bore and the natural fracture system in the reservoir and makes it
more difficult to determine permeability accurately. The high skin factor often can be
eliminated by performing a breakdown treatment or small stimulation before testing.
• Absolute permeability of coal natural fracture systems can be estimated from well tests
performed under multiphase flow conditions if accurate relative permeability curves are
• Because of the highly heterogeneous nature of coal reservoirs, well tests with short radii
of investigation may not yield representative permeability values.
• A new well testing procedure, the Tank Test, was developed. This test utilizes gravity
drainage to inject water into under-pressured reservoirs. The Tank Test can be
performed for less cost than an injection/falloff test. It also prevents fracturing of the coal
during injection and minimizes stress effects.
• In the over-pressured portions of the western coal basins, drill stem testing is an
effective method for determining permeability.
• A Zone Isolation Packer (ZIPTM) can be used to measure production from individual
zones in multi-seam wells.

A wide variety of tests can be used to evaluate coal bed methane wells. These include
production or injection drill stem tests, cased-hole production and injection tests, slug tests,
tank tests, and tests combined with production logging. Selecting the test type depends
primarily on the completion type of the well, the level of natural fracture system development,
the average pressure of the natural fracture system, and the reservoir saturation conditions.
Economic factors will also influence test selection. The least expensive tests are water
production or injection slug tests of higher permeability under-pressured reservoirs.

Designing coal bed methane well tests requires estimates of the ranges of reservoir
permeability and pressure. When testing wildcat wells in unknown areas, standard test
procedures must be used and modified because permeability estimates are not available
before testing. Measuring permeability from well tests can be difficult because two-phase flow
of gas and water usually occurs during production. Most early coal bed methane well testing
research was based on single-phase flow and standard hydrologic tests. Recently, significant
advances have been made in performing and interpreting two-phase well tests for naturally
fractured coal reservoirs. However, current technology in both single- and multiphase- flow can
provide accurate estimates of permeability if tests are properly designed and interpreted.

Today, most coal bed methane well test interpretation is based on using diagnostic graphs and
history matching measured pressure behavior. Though coal bed methane reservoirs are dual
porosity systems, dual porosity models are not required to interpret well test behavior. Using
single porosity models simplifies the analysis procedures. Commercially available well test
analysis software can be used for interpreting coal bed methane reservoir tests by accounting
for multiphase flow and including gas readsorption in the total compressibility factor. Other
approaches, such as new type curves for two-phase flow conditions, are also being developed.

Despite the large number of coal bed methane wells on production, few well tests are routinely
performed. It is important to understand, however, that by using current coal bed methane well
testing technology, producers can obtain accurate, cost-effective estimates of permeability for
evaluating existing properties and new prospects in emerging coal basins. Continued
advances in interpreting multiphase flow well tests are likely in the future. These advances will
be enhanced by the increased emphasis on reservoir characterization, data integration, and
computer technology

Seismic Study and Data Acquisition

In order to optimally design the 3C-3D survey used for time-lapse imaging of the pilot, 3-
component vertical seismic profiles were obtained in the test well using three different sources.
Zero-offset VSPs were shot using compressional and shear sources, and two compressional
sources were used for walkaway surveys. Surface seismic data was also obtained using
single-component geophones during the recording of the VSPs. The top of the Ardley coal
zone at the site is at approximately 290 m KB. The geometry of the survey is illustrated in
Figure 1.

Figure 1: Geometry of the seismic acquired at Red Deer. A walk away 3-component vertical
seismic profile was recorded in addition to a zero-offset 3-component VSP and single-
component surface seismic. Image is not to scale.

The first source tested for the zero-offset survey was a 44,000 lb. P-wave Vibroseis
truck (“big-P”), using a sweep of 8-150 Hz. A smaller mini P-wave truck-mounted Vibroseis unit
was also tested, using an 8-250 Hz sweep, as well as a mini shear-wave truck-mounted
Vibroseis, sweeping 8-150 Hz (referred to as “mini-P” and “mini-S”, respectively. Three-
component receivers were spaced at 5 m intervals from TD (300 m) to surface within the
wellbore, and all recording was undertaken at a 1 ms sampling rate. Surface receivers were
planted at 10 m intervals.

Frequency spectrum analysis of the big-P VSP data indicates a useable bandwidth of
15-150 Hz. Upper and lower contacts for the 9 m thick Ardle coal zone are clearly resolved on
the big-P VSP data with high amplitude reflections from the coal zone (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Corridor stack of vertical component of big-P zero offset VSP data from Red
Deer test well #1, correlated with synthetic seismograms. Seismogram on the left is produced
by convolution with the extracted down going wavelet, whereas the central seismogram is
convolved with a 90 Hz Ricker wavelet. An intra-coal event is visible on the first seismogram,
but not on the corridor stack, in which the top and base of the Ardley coal zone both produce
strong amplitude reflections.

Higher bandwidths of 15-220 Hz were recorded on the mini-P data set. Examining the
VSP data clearly shows an event within the coal zone (Figure 3). This reflection may represent
shale parting or a tight calcite streak within the coal, although log data shows the largest
impedance contrasts bound a layer within the coal zone that is only 0.5 m thick. The high
bandwidth recorded suggests that strong impedance contrasts within a coal zone may allow
detailed mapping of individual seams within a coal zone, or locating undesirable tight streaks
prior to CBM development.

Figure 3: Corridor stack of vertical component of mini-P zero offset VSP from the field
test site, correlated with synthetic seismograms. The leftmost seismogram is convolved with a
100 Hz Ricker wavelet, whereas the center seismogram is convolved with the extracted down
going wavelet. On the corridor stack, the top and base of the Ardley coal both produce strong
amplitude reflections, and a secondary event within the coal zone is also visible.
Upper and lower coal contacts both produce strong amplitude reflections recorded on
the horizontal component of the mini-S VSP data. In the compressional-wave data sets, the
seismic response of the upper contact of the coal is the maximum of a peak. There appears to
be a slight phase difference between the P and S data sets (Figure 4). Zero-offset mini-S data
has slightly higher resolution than big-P data, and has a usable bandwidth of 15-80 Hz, which
is quite high for shear-wave data. However, the coal is relatively shallow, and little attenuation
has occurred relative to deeper data sets normally examined. Deffenbaugh et al. (2000) noted
similar high resolutions in the shallow section in an examination of the resolution of converted
A comparison of corridor stacks from each source is illustrated in figure 5

Figure 4: Corridor stack of horizontal component of mini-S zero offset VSP, correlated
with a synthetic seismogram (middle) and the corridor stack for the big-P data. The top and
base of the Ardley coal both produce strong reflections on the S-wave data, although the upper
contact is imaged as a point of inflection rather than as a peak maximum, as in the
compressional VSP data. Two-way times have been converted to p-wave time for ease of
comparison of the data sets.

Figure 5: Comparison of corridor stacks for the big-P, mini-P, and mini-S sources. A
slight phase rotation is noted in the shear data compared to the compressional data. All plots
are in p-wave time for ease of comparison.
The use of different sources allows a detailed examination of the Vp/Vs character of the
shallow strata (Figure 6). Examination of the first arrival times for each source demonstrates
high average Vp/Vs (greater than 3.0) in the shallowest strata down to 100 m depth,
decreasing to average Vp/Vs of 2.5 at 300 m.

Figure 6: Depth vs. average Vp/Vs for Red Deer test well indicates high Vp/Vs values in
the shallow section above 100 m depth, and gradually decreasing ratios from 100 m to 300 m.

Surface seismic data at the test site recorded a high amplitude reflection from the coal
zone. Stacked data from the test site is very low fold, but the coal reflection is clearly visible on
a filtered shot record (Figure 7). A full-fold 3D survey is expected to successfully map lateral
facies and thickness changes of the coal zone across the survey area. Repeated surveys over
the course of enhanced coal bed methane production will likely image changes in the coal
response resulting from dewatering and gas injection (Richardson et al., 2002). These
changes in response should be indicative of the accompanying physical changes in reservoir
Seismic data collected during this first phase of the pilot project allows for detailed
numerical and physical modeling of the test site, thus allowing optimal design of time-lapse
surveys to be completed in later phases.

Figure 7: Filtered shot record of surface data collected at the test site – channel spacing
is 10 m with a corner at channel 22, marked by green arrow, vertical scale is in ms. A red
arrow highlights the coal response.

A full seismic monitoring program of ECBM production will include full well-log suites
such that detailed physical properties of coal seams may be determined throughout the survey
area. Repeated VSP surveys will provide detailed seismic studies of the area surrounding the
borehole, and cross well seismic surveys will allow greater examination of the coal seam in

2 Drilling Technology

There are many types and designs of drilling rigs, with many drilling rigs capable of switching
or combining different drilling technologies as needed. Drilling rigs can be described using any
of the following attributes:

By power used

• mechanical - the rig uses torque converters, clutches, and transmissions powered by its
own engines, often diesel
• electric - the major items of machinery are driven by electric motors, usually with power
generated on-site using internal combustion engines
• hydraulic - the rig primarily uses hydraulic power
• pneumatic - the rig is primarily powered by pressurized air
• steam - the rig uses steam-powered engines and pumps (obsolescent after middle of
20th Century)

By pipe used

• cable - a cable is used to raise and drop the drill bit

• conventional - uses metal or plastic drill pipe of varying types
• coil tubing - uses a giant coil of tube and a down hole drilling motor

By height

• single - can drill only single drill pipes, has no vertical pipe racks (most small drilling
• Double - can hold a stand of pipe in the derrick consisting of two connected drill pipes,
called a "double stand".
• Triple - can hold a stand of pipe in the derrick consisting of three connected drill pipes,
called a "triple stand".

By method of rotation or drilling method

• no rotation includes direct push rigs and most service rigs

• Rotary table - rotation is achieved by turning a square or hexagonal pipe (the Kelly) at
drill floor level.
• Top-drive - rotation and circulation is done at the top of the drill string, on a motor that
moves in a track along the derrick.
• sonic - uses primarily vibratory energy to advance the drill string

By position of derrick

• conventional - derrick is vertical

• slant - derrick is slanted at a 45 degree angle to facilitate horizontal drilling Drill types

There are a variety of drill mechanisms which can be used to sink a borehole into the ground.
Each has its advantages and disadvantages, in terms of the depth to which it can drill, the type
of sample returned, the costs involved and penetration rates achieved. There are two basic
types of drills: drills which produce rock chips, and drills which produce core samples.

Auger drilling

Auger drilling is done with a helical screw which is driven into the ground with rotation; the
earth is lifted up the borehole by the blade of the screw. Hollow stem Auger drilling is used for
environmental drilling, geotechnical drilling, soil engineering and geochemistry reconnaissance
work in exploration for mineral deposits. Solid flight augers/bucket augers are used in
construction drilling. In some cases, mine shafts are dug with auger drills. Small augers can be
mounted on the back of a utility truck, with large augers used for sinking piles for bridge

Auger drilling is restricted to generally soft unconsolidated material or weak weathered rock. It
is cheap and fast.

Cable tool water well drilling

Percussion rotary air blast drilling (RAB)

RAB drilling is used most frequently in the mineral exploration industry. The drill uses a
pneumatic reciprocating piston-driven 'hammer' to energetically drive a heavy drill bit into the
rock. The drill bit is hollow, solid steel and has ~20 mm thick tungsten rods protruding from the
steel matrix as 'buttons'. The tungsten buttons are the cutting face of the bit.

The cuttings are blown up the outside of the rods and collected at surface. Air or a combination
of air and foam lift the cuttings.

RAB drilling is used primarily for mineral exploration; water bore drilling and blast-hole drilling
in mines, as well as for other applications such as engineering, etc. RAB produces lower
quality samples because the cuttings are blown up the outside of the rods and can be
contaminated from contact with other rocks. RAB drilling rarely achieves more than 150 meters
depth as encountering water rapidly clogs the outside of the hole with debris, precluding
removal of drill cuttings from the hole.

This can be counteracted, however, with the use of 'stabilizers' also known as 'reamers', which
are large cylindrical pieces of steel attached to the drill string, and made to perfectly fit the size
of the hole being drilled. These have sets of rollers on the side, usually with tungsten buttons,
that constantly break down cuttings being pushed upwards.

The use of multiple high-powered air compressors, which push 900-1150cfm of air at 300-
350psi down the hole also ensures drilling of a deeper hole up to ~1250m due to higher air
pressure which pushes all rock cuttings and any water to the surface. This, of course, is all
dependent on the density and weight of the rock being drilled, and on how worn the drill bit is.

Air core drilling

Air core drilling and related methods use hardened steel or tungsten blades to bore a hole into
unconsolidated ground. The drill bit has three blades arranged around the bit head, which cut
the unconsolidated ground. The rods are hollow and contain an inner tube which sits inside the
hollow outer rod barrel. The drill cuttings are removed by injection of compressed air into the
hole via the annular area between the inner tube and the drill rod. The cuttings are then blown
back to surface up the inner tube where they pass through the sample separating system and
are collected if needed. Drilling continues with the addition of rods to the top of the drill string.
Air core drilling can occasionally produce small chunks of cored rock.

This method of drilling is used to drill the weathered regolith, as the drill rig and steel or
tungsten blades cannot penetrate fresh rock. Where possible, air core drilling is preferred over
RAB drilling as it provides a more representative sample. Air core drilling can achieve depths
approaching 300 meters in good conditions. As the cuttings are removed inside the rods and
are less prone to contamination compared to conventional drilling where the cuttings pass to
the surface via outside return between the outside of the drill rob and the walls of the hole. This
method is more costly and slower than RAB.

Cable tool drilling

Speed Star Cable Tool Drilling Rig, Ballston Spa, NY

Cable tool rigs are a traditional way of drilling water wells internationally and in the United
States. The majority of large diameter water supply wells, especially deep wells completed in
bedrock aquifers, were completed using this drilling method. Although this drilling method has
largely been supplanted in recent years by other, faster drilling techniques, it is still the most
practicable drilling method for large diameter, deep bedrock wells, and in widespread use for
small rural water supply wells. The impact of the drill bit fractures the rock and in many shale
rock situations increases the water flow into a well over rotary.

Also known as ballistic well drilling and sometimes called "spudders", these rigs raise and drop
a drill string with a heavy carbide tipped drilling bit that chisels through the rock by finely
pulverizing the subsurface materials. The drill string is comprised of the upper drill rods, a set
of "jars" (inter-locking "sliders" that help transmit additional energy to the drill bit and assist in
removing the bit if it is stuck) and the drill bit. During the drilling process, the drill string is
periodically removed from the borehole and a bailer is lowered to collect the drill cuttings (rock
fragments, soil, etc.). The bailer is a bucket-like tool with a trapdoor in the base. If the borehole
is dry, water is added so that the drill cuttings will flow into the bailer. When lifted, the bailer
closes and the cuttings are then raised and removed. Since the drill string must be raised and
lowered to advance the boring, casing (larger diameter outer piping) is typically used to hold
back upper soil materials and stabilize the borehole.

Cable tool rigs are simpler and cheaper than similarly sized rotary rigs, although loud and very
slow to operate. The world record cable tool well was drilled in New York to a depth of almost
12,000 feet. The common Bucyrus Erie 22 can drill down to about 1,100 feet. Since cable tool
drilling does not use air to eject the drilling chips like a rotary, instead using a cable strung
bailer, technically there is no limitation on depth.

Reverse circulation (RC) drilling

Reverse Circulation (RC) rig, outside Newman,

Track mounted Reverse Circulation rig (side view).

RC drilling is similar to air core drilling, in that the drill cuttings are returned to surface inside
the rods. The drilling mechanism is a pneumatic reciprocating piston known as a hammer
driving a tungsten-steel drill bit. RC drilling utilizes much larger rigs and machinery and depths
of up to 500 meters are routinely achieved. RC drilling ideally produces dry rock chips, as large
air compressors dry the rock out ahead of the advancing drill bit. RC drilling is slower and
costlier but achieves better penetration than RAB or air core drilling; it is cheaper than diamond
coring and is thus preferred for most mineral exploration work.

Reverse circulation is achieved by blowing air down the rods, the differential pressure creating
air lift of the water and cuttings up the inner tube which is inside each rod. It reaches the bell at
the top of the hole, then moves through a sample hose which is attached to the top of the
cyclone. The drill cuttings travel around the inside of the cyclone until they fall through an
opening at the bottom and are collected in a sample bag.

The most commonly used RC drill bits are 5-8 inches (12.7–20.32 cm) in diameter and have
round metal 'buttons' that protrude from the bit, which are required to drill through rock and
shale. As the buttons wear down, drilling becomes slower and the rod string can potentially
become bogged in the hole. This is a problem as trying to recover the rods may take hours and
in some cases weeks. The rods and drill bits themselves are very expensive, often resulting in
great cost to drilling companies when equipment is lost down the bore hole. Most companies
will regularly 'sharpen' the buttons on their drill bits in order to prevent this, and to speed up
progress. Usually, when something is lost (breaks off) in the hole, it is not the drill string, but
rather from the bit, hammer, or stabilizer to the bottom of the drill string (bit). This is usually
caused by a blunt bit getting stuck in fresh rock, over-stressed metal, or a fresh drill bit getting
stuck in a part of the hole that is too small, due to having used a bit that has worn to smaller
than the desired hole diameter.

Although RC drilling is air-powered, water is also used, to reduce dust, keep the drill bit cool,
and assist in pushing cutting back upwards, but also when collaring a new hole. A mud called
liqui-pol is mixed with water and pumped into the rod string, down the hole. This helps to bring
up the sample to the surface by making the sand stick together. Occasionally, 'super-foam'
(AKA 'quick-foam') is also used, to bring all the very fine cuttings to the surface, and to clean
the hole. When the drill reaches hard rock, a collar is put down the hole around the rods which
is normally PVC piping. Occasionally the collar may be made from metal casing. Collaring a
hole is needed to stop the walls from caving in and bogging the rod string at the top of the
hole. Collars may be up to 60 meters deep, depending on the ground, although if drilling
through hard rock a collar may not be necessary.

Reverse circulation rig setups usually consist of a support vehicle, an auxiliary vehicle, as well
as the rig itself. The support vehicle, normally a truck, holds diesel and water tanks for
resupplying the rig. It also holds other supplies needed for maintenance on the rig. The
auxiliary is a vehicle, carrying an auxiliary engine and a booster engine. These engines are
connected to the rig by high pressure air hoses. Although RC rigs have their own booster and
compressor to generate air pressure, extra power is needed which usually isn't supplied by the
rig due to lack of space for these large engines. Instead, the engines are mounted on the
auxiliary vehicle. Compressors on an RC rig have an output of around 1000 cfm at 500 psi
(500 L·s-1 at 3.4 MPa). Alternatively, stand-alone air compressors which have an output of 900-
1150cfm at 300-350 psi each are used in sets of 2, 3, or 4, which are all routed to the rig
through a multi-valve manifold.

Diamond core drilling

Multi-combination drilling rig (capable of both diamond and reverse circulation drilling). Rig is
currently set up for diamond drilling.

Diamond core drilling (Exploration diamond drilling) utilizes an annular diamond-impregnated

drill bit attached to the end of hollow drill rods to cut a cylindrical core of solid rock. The
diamonds used are fine to microphone industrial grade diamonds. They are set within a matrix
of varying hardness, from brass to high-grade steel. Matrix hardness, diamond size and dosing
can be varied according to the rock which must be cut. Holes within the bit allow water to be
delivered to the cutting face. This provides three essential functions; lubrication, cooling, and
removal of drill cuttings from the hole.

Diamond drilling is much slower than reverse circulation (RC) drilling due to the hardness of
the ground being drilled. Drilling of 1200 to 1800 meters is common and at these depths,
ground is mainly hard rock. Diamond rigs need to drill slowly to lengthen the life of drill bits and
rods, which are very expensive.

Core samples are retrieved via the use of a lifter tube, a hollow tube lowered inside the rod
string by a winch cable until it stops inside the core barrel. As the core is drilled, the core lifter
slides over the core as it is cut. An overshot attached to the end of the winch cable is lowered
inside the rod string and locks on to the backend, located on the top end of the lifter tube. The
winch is retracted, pulling the lifter tube to the surface. The core does not drop out the inside of
the lifter tube when lifted because a "core lifter spring," located at the bottom of the tube allows
the core to move inside the tube but not fall out.

Diamond core drill bits

Once a rod is removed from the hole, the core sample is then removed from the rod and
catalogued. The Driller's offside screws the rod apart using tube clamps, then each part of the
rod is taken and the core is shaken out into core trays. The core is washed, measured and
broken into smaller pieces using a hammer to make it fit into the sample trays. Once
catalogued, the core trays are retrieved by geologists who then analyze the core and
determine if the drill site is a good location to expand future mining operations.

Diamond rigs can also be part of a multi-combination rig. Multi-combination rigs are a dual
setup rig capable of operating in either a reverse circulation (RC) and diamond drilling role
(though not at the same time). This is a common scenario where exploration drilling is being
performed in a very isolated location. The rig is first set up to drill as an RC rig and once the
desired meters are drilled, the rig is set up for diamond drilling. This way the deeper meters of
the hole can be drilled without moving the rig and waiting for a diamond rig to set up on the

Direct Push Rigs

Direct push technology includes several types of drilling rigs and drilling equipment which
advances a drill string by pushing or hammering without rotating the drill string. This should
perhaps not properly be called drilling; however the same basic results (i.e. a borehole) are
achieved. Direct push rigs include both cone penetration testing (CPT) rigs and direct push
sampling rigs such as a PowerProbe or Geoprobe. Direct push rigs typically are limited to
drilling in unconsolidated soil materials and very soft rock.

CPT rigs advance specialized testing equipment (such as electronic cones), and soil samplers
using large hydraulic rams. Most CPT rigs are heavily ballasted (20 metric tons is typical) as a
counter force against the pushing force of the hydraulic rams which are often rated up to 20kn.
Alternatively, small, light CPT rigs and offshore CPT rigs will use anchors such as screwed-in
ground anchors to create the reactive force. In ideal conditions, CPT rigs can achieve
production rates of up to 250-300 meters per day.

Direct Push Drilling rigs use hydraulic cylinders and a hydraulic hammer in advancing a hollow
core sampler to gather soil and groundwater samples. The speed and depth of penetration is
largely dependent on the soil type, the size of the sampler, and the weight and power the rig.
Direct push techniques are generally limited to shallow soil sample recovery in unconsolidated

soil materials. The advantage of direct push technology is that in the right soil type it can
produce a large number of high quality samples quickly and cheaply, generally from 50 to 75
meters per day. Rather than hammering, direct push can also be combined with sonic
(vibratory) methods to increase drill efficiency.

Hydraulic-rotary drilling

Oil well drilling utilizes tri-cone roller, carbide embedded, fixed-cutter diamond, or diamond-
impregnated drill bits to wear away at the cutting face. This is preferred because there is no
need to return intact samples to surface for assay as the objective is to reach a formation
containing oil or natural gas. Sizable machinery is used, enabling depths of several kilometers
to be penetrated. Rotating hollow drill pipes carry down bentonite and barite infused drilling
muds to lubricate, cool, and clean the drilling bit, control down hole pressures, stabilize the wall
of the borehole and remove drill cuttings. The mud travels back to the surface around the
outside of the drill pipe, called the annulus. Examining rock chips extracted from the mud is
known as mud logging. Another form of well logging is electronic and is frequently employed to
evaluate the existence of possible oil and gas deposits in the borehole. This can take place
while the well is being drilled, using Measurement While Drilling tools, or after drilling, by
lowering measurement tools into the newly-drilled hole.

The rotary system of drilling was in general use in Texas in the early 1900s. It is a modification
of one invented by Fauvelle in 1845, and used in the early years of the oil industry in some of
the oil-producing countries in Europe. Originally pressurized water was used instead of mud,
and was almost useless in hard rock before the diamond cutting bit.[1]. The main breakthrough
for rotary drilling came in 1901, when Anthony Francis Lucas combined the use of a steam-
driven rig and of mud instead of water in the Spindletop discovery well.[2]

The drilling and production of oil and gas can pose a safety risk and a hazard to the
environment from the ignition of the entrained gas causing dangerous fires and also from the
risk of oil leakage polluting water, land and groundwater. For these reasons, redundant safety
systems and highly trained personnel are required by law in all countries with significant

Sonic (Vibratory) Drilling

A sonic drill head works by sending high frequency resonant vibrations down the drill string to
the drill bit, while the operator controls these frequencies to suit the specific conditions of the
soil/rock geology.

Resonance magnifies the amplitude of the drill bit, which fluidizes the soil particles at the bit
face, allowing for fast and easy penetration through most geological formations. An internal
spring system isolates these vibrational forces from the rest of the drill rig.

An oil rig

Drill technology has advanced steadily since the 19th century. However, there are several
basic limiting factors which will determine the depth to which a bore hole can be sunk.

All holes must maintain outer diameter; the diameter of the hole must remain wider than the
diameter of the rods or the rods cannot turn in the hole and progress cannot continue. Friction
caused by the drilling operation will tend to reduce the outside diameter of the drill bit. This
applies to all drilling methods, except that in diamond core drilling and oil well drilling the use of
thinner rods and casing may permit the hole to continue. Casing is simply a hollow sheath
which protects the hole against collapse during drilling, and is often made of metal or PVC.
Often diamond holes will start off at a large diameter and when outside diameter is lost, thinner
rods put down inside casing to continue, until finally the hole becomes too thin. Alternatively,
the hole can be reamed.

For percussion techniques, the main limitation is air pressure. Air must be delivered to the
piston at sufficient pressure to activate the reciprocating action, and in turn drive the head into
the rock with sufficient strength to fracture and pulverize it. With depth, volume is added to the
in-rod string, requiring larger compressors to achieve operational pressures. Secondly,
groundwater is ubiquitous, and increases in pressure with depth in the ground. The air inside
the rod string must be pressurized enough to overcome this water pressure at the bit face.
Then, the air must be able to carry the rock fragments to surface. This is why depths in excess
of 500 m for reverse circulation drilling are rarely achieved, because the cost is prohibitive and
approaches the threshold at which diamond core drilling is more economic.

Diamond drilling can routinely achieve depths in excess of 1200 m. In cases where money is
no issue, extreme depths have been achieved because there is no requirement to overcome
water pressure. However, circulation must be maintained to return the drill cuttings to surface,
and more importantly to maintain cooling and lubrication of the cutting surface.

Without sufficient lubrication and cooling, the matrix of the drill bit will soften. While diamond is
one of the hardest substances known to man at 10 on the Mohs hardness scale, it must
remain firmly in the matrix to achieve cutting. Weight on bit, the force exerted on the cutting
face of the bit by the drill rods in the hole above the bit, must also be monitored.

A unique drilling operation in deep ocean water was named Mohole.

Types of Drilling Fluid

Many types of drilling fluids are used on a day to day basis. Some wells require that different
types be used at different parts in the hole, or that some types be used in combination with
others. The various types of fluid generally fall into a few broad categories:[1]

• Air - compressed air is pumped either down the bore holes annular space or down the
drill string itself.
• Air/water - Same as above, with water added to increase viscosity, flush the hole,
provide more cooling, and/or to control dust.
• Air/polymer - A specially formulated chemical, most often referred to as a type of
polymer, is added to the water & air mixture to create specific conditions. A foaming
agent is a good example of a polymer.
• Water - Water by itself is pumped to do very specific things in very specific formations.

• Water-Based Mud (WBM) - A most basic water-based mud system begins with water,
then clays and other chemicals are incorporated into the water to create a homogenous
blend resembling something between chocolate milk and a malt (depending on
viscosity). The clay (called "shale" in its rock form) is usually a combination of native
clays that are disolved into the fluid while drilling, or specific types of clay that are
processed and sold as additives for the WBM system. The most common of these is
bentonite, frequently referred to in the oilfield as "gel". Gel likely makes reference to the
fact that while the fluid is being pumped, it can be very thin and free-flowing (like
chocolate milk), though when pumping is stopped, the static fluid builds a "gel" structure
that resists flow. When an adequate pumping force is applied to "break the gel", flow
resumes and the fluid returns to its previously free-flowing state. Many other chemicals
(e.g. Potassium Formate) are added to a WBM system to achieve various effects,
including: viscosity control, shale stability, enhance drilling rate of penetration, cooling
and lubricating of equipment

Logging of well
Well design is key
Maximizing the net present value from coal bed methane (CBM) production requires
maximizing the reserves and rate of gas extraction while keeping costs down. Optimizing
well design, placement and completion, as well as stimulation and production, are key
elements of this process. A successful project requires knowledge of the subsurface
characteristics of the target CBM reservoir:

• location and distribution of the coal gas reserves

• producibility of these reserves
• mechanical characteristics of the coals and surrounding beds
• likelihood of water production from adjacent aquifers
• Potential of commingled gas production from adjacent reservoirs.

Well evaluation is the primary means of delivering this information. Wireline geophysical logs,
in particular, provide rapid measurements that can be used in wellsite decision-making.

Full range of well evaluation services

Gas adsorbed to coal cannot be measured directly, but in-situ gas content can be derived by
correlating the coal properties, measured with logs, to the coal composition and gas content of
representative core analyses. Coal cleat porosity is the primary mechanism controlling gas
producibility and is also difficult to measure directly. Proven Schlumberger logging techniques
for delivering these key CBM properties in situ include

• traditional logs, such as the high-resolution density log, linked with innovative analysis
algorithms to develop local models derived from existing core and production data
• Advanced logs, such as geochemical logs, with processing and analysis tailored to the
specific needs of CBM, providing answers that are more accurate and comprehensive.

Cased hole geochemical logging

two cased hole tools in particular, the ECS Elemental Capture Spectroscopy stoned and the
RST Reservoir Saturation Tool, increase operational efficiency by providing valuable CBM
evaluation information without the need for open hole logging. These tools directly measure
the chemical makeup of coal and ash mineralogy and are used to estimate the discrete and
cumulative coal gas volume and the degree of cleating.

Total coal gas content and the gas adsorption isotherm at discrete depths are determined from
the coal and ash content measurements by using an empirical relationship derived from
proximate analysis and gas desorption/adsorption tests performed on core samples. This
relationship is applied within a physical gas adsorption model, such as the Longmuir equation.

The degree of cleating at discrete depths is indicated by geochemical log measurements of the
mineral ash constituents of coal beds. These are typically carbonate, quartz, pyrite and clay. In
order to determine the degree of cleating, relationships that use the cutoffs on the mineral ash
volume measurements have been developed. The inferred degree of cleating, in turn, indicates
the gas producibility of the coal at that depth. Cleating and coal gas content estimates are
enhanced when coal proximate, gas desorption/adsorption analysis data and CBM production
data are available from at least one well in the field.

The geochemical measurement is largely unaffected by fluid in the well, and the contribution of
the casing and annular fill to the overall measurement can be easily subtracted because the
depth of investigation extends to 7 in. The ECS stoned delivers greater measurement precision
than the RST tool. However, the RST tool can be run in casing as small as 2 in., whereas the
ECS stoned is limited to casing of 6 in. or larger. In addition, the RST tool uses a pulsed
neutron generator, whereas the ECS stoned uses a chemical radioactive neutron source.

As well as providing evaluation of the coals, both tools deliver accurate litho logy
characterization throughout the logged borehole. The geochemical log has a standard vertical
resolution of 20 in., but 8-in. vertical resolution is possible if a high-resolution neutron porosity
log is also run.

High-resolution density measurement

The standard Schlumberger open hole logging suite for CBM well evaluation includes both
bulk density and gamma ray measurements. It provides high-resolution delineation of the
depth and thickness of coals because the bulk density measurement has a vertical resolution
as high as 2 in. Coal quality is indicated by the magnitude of the bulk density drop. A local
model can be developed to quantitatively predict coal grade, rank and gas content from the
log. This is achieved by calibrating the density and coincident Peor the neutron porosity
measurements with reliable core coal proximate, core gas content and production data.

Openhole geochemical logging

A more accurate and reliable estimate of gas reserves, coal quality and degree of cleating can
be obtained by open hole geochemical logging with the ECS or RST tools. The geochemical
log is a dry measurement with a 7-in. depth of investigation allowing both washouts and other
environmental effects to be eliminated. Openhole geochemical logs can also provide a
"ground-truth" for subtracting contributions due to casing and annular fill.

Combining the geochemical log with a density measurement enables a more general coal gas
estimate to be made and increases the coal bed vertical resolution from 20 in. to as sharp as 2
in. In addition, performing a full "wet" formation evaluation with density porosity helps reach a
decision on completion and stimulation methodology. For example, the litho logy and porosity
of beds adjacent to the coal indicate how much water these beds may produce, which is
important in deciding whether to perforate the coal or perforate an adjacent bed before
fracturing into the coal.

Integrated open hole logging suite

The Platform Express suite of logs adds resistively, microresistivity and neutron porosity to the
stand-alone density log. This provides a coal cleat porosity estimate from the resistivity and
classical formation evaluation along with the coal quality and gas content estimate. The
Platform Express suite also allows computation of synthetic compressional and shear
velocities, using neural network local models. These velocities can be used to estimate
mechanical properties and stress profiles for stimulation design.

Sonic imaging measurements

A direct calculation of mechanical properties and stress profiles for stimulation design can be
made when the DSI tool is run. This tool measures actual compressional and shear velocities
in coals and surrounding beds. It also allows computation of velocity anisotropy to assist in
advanced oriented completions, for CBM basin evaluation, or as a secondary local indicator of

Well Completion

Once the design well depth is reached, the formation must be tested and evaluated to
determine whether the well will be completed for production, or plugged and abandoned.

To complete the well production, casing is installed and cemented and the drilling rig is
dismantled and moved to the next site.

A service rig is brought in to perforate the production casing and run production tubing. If no
further pre-production servicing is needed, the christmas tree is installed and production

. Completed well
. Well completion service rig

Well completion for cased hole activities include:

 Conducting Drill Stem Test

 Setting Production Casing
 Installing Production Tubing
 Starting Production Flow
 Beam Pumping Units

Conducting Drill Stem Test

To determine the potential of a producing formation, the operator

may order a drill stem test (DS

The DST crew makes up the test tool on the bottom of

Weight is applied to the tool to expand a hard rubber sealer called

a packer.

Opening the tool ports allows the formation pressure to be tested.

This process enables workers to determine whether the

Well can be produced.

. Drill stem test assembly

Setting Production Casing

Production casing is the final casing in a well.
It can be set from the bottom to the top.

Sometimes a production liner is installed.

This casing is set the same as other casings,

then cemented in place. Installing production casing

Installing Production Tubing

A well is usually produced through tubing inserted

down the production casing.
Oil and gas is produced more effectively through
this smaller-diameter tubing than through
the large-diameter production casing.

Joints of tubing are joined together with couplings

to make up a tubing string.
Tubing is run into the well much the same as casing,
but tubing is smaller in diameter and is removable.

The steps for this activity are:

Tubing elevators are used to lift tubing from
the rack to the rig floor.

 The joint is stabbed into the string,

which is suspended in the well, with air slips.

 Power tongs are used to make-up tubing.

Tubing head

 This process is repeated until tubing installation is complete.

 The tubing hanger is installed at the wellhead.

The steps for this activity are:

 Tubing elevators are used to lift tubing from the

 rack to the rig floor.

 The joint is stabbed into the string,

 this is suspended in the well, with air slips.

 Power tongs are used to make-up tubing.

 This process is repeated until tubing installation is complete.

The tubing hanger is installed at the wellhead. Installing coil tubing

 New technology allows tubing to be manufactured in a continuous coil, without joints.

Coiled tubing is inserted into the well down the production casing without the need for
tongs, slips, or elevators, which takes considerably less time to run.

Starting Production Flow

Production flow is started by washing

in the well and setting the packer.
Washing in means to pump in water or brine
to flush out the drilling fluid.
Usually this is enough to start the well flowing.
If not, then the well may need to be unloaded.
This means to swab the well to remove some of the brine.
If this does not work the flow might be started
by pumping high-pressure gas into the well
before setting the packer.

If the well does not flow on its own,

well stimulation or artificial lift may need to be considered.
Production flow

Beam Pumping Units

If the well doesn't produce adequately,

a beam pumping unit may be installed.

There are four basic types of beam pumping units.

Three involve a walking beam,
which seesaws to provide the up and down
reciprocating motion to power the pump.

The fourth reciprocates by winding a cable on

and off a rotating drum.
The job of all four types is to change
the circular motion of an engine to the
reciprocating motion of the pump.
Beam pumping units

The pump units are brought in disassembled
on trucks and off-loaded onsite.

The many parts of the pump unit include l

heavy metal pieces that need to be assembled.

Assembling beam pumping unit

Open hole

Since open hole completion work has experienced a resurgence of popularity, some of the
techniques inherent in this style of completion are relatively new to some of the people
involved in that work. One aspect of this type of completion is the need to use a careful system
of depth control. Whereas in a cased hole completion the perf guns are guided by a correlating
gamma ray log, the open hole work must be done in a similar fashion except that one extra
tool is needed. This tool is called a steel line and the steel line measurement or SLM as it is
referred to, must be used continuously throughout the open hole procedure. This is so that any
differences of depth between the original open hole logs and the rig' s steel line are
compensated for, permitting the placement of the treatment accurately in the target zones.

The normal procedure in open hole completions involves "notching" or cutting a groove in the
formation using a blast of sand and air through a jet on the end of a string of tubing. It is at this
point that the correlation of the logger's depths to the steel line used by the rig occurs. With the
tubing string run into the well, a slim-hole gamma/CCL log is used to locate the position of the
tool on the end of the tubing relative to the formation. This is an important step since all other
depths needed during the procedure will be determined with this steel line, including packer
sets and plug back depths. This procedure is necessary because, for various reasons, the
depth determined by the SLM may be different from the original depths recorded on the open
hole logs. The calibration of logging tools, reference points from which the logs were run and
hole conditions may all contribute to this difference.

Several steps can be taken to enhance the accuracy and reliability of the SLM. First, a
permanent reference point at the surface should be established from which the correlation
gamma ray will be measured as well as all future depths during the completion. Usually the top
of the collar on the water string is as good a choice as any since this casing will usually not
change for the duration of the completion. Next, when running the tubing string for the notch,
place a short joint, perhaps ten feet long, on the bottom of the string. With the known length of
this joint and the notch tool installed, the exact position of the notch tool can be noted with the
aid of the CCL log. I have found it helpful to always set the tubing a known distance above the
reference point so that the calculations for the SLM will always use this same amount. When
working repeatedly with the same rig crew, this is not a difficult request and can add to the
procedural regularity of the operation.

At this point, the most important series of calculations will be made. In doing the calculations a
pre-established format or work sheet is helpful. It is a good idea to record at least the minimum
pertinent data on this sheet, including the well number or other identification, date, log zero or
permanent reference point such as "top of the 7" casing" and perhaps the name of the target
formation and its depth from the open hole logs. Once the SLM is run inside the tubing, it
should be noted and labeled as such on the work sheet. If after the gamma ray log is run it is
determined that any tubing needs to be added or removed to facilitate the notch procedure, the
change in tubing should be shown in the SLM. If more than three joints are added or removed,
it may be wise to re-run the SLM.

Next, the slim-hole gamma ray CCL tool is run. Common practice in the Appalachian Basin is
to use an expanded scale of either 20 or 25 inches per 100 feet of hole. Of course it is not
necessary to log much more that the zone of interest and perhaps a couple of additional
correlating marker beds or stringers. Once the log is run, the completion engineer can
compare it to the original open hole logs and identify the desired location of the notch points.
With this information and the calculation of the SLM it can then be determined how far the
notch tool must be raised to cut the first notch. If more than one notch is desired, the same
calculation can be made proceeding from the lowest notch point in the hold towards the
surface. If it becomes necessary to remove more than

three joints of tubing while proceeding with the notch procedure, it is wise to repeat the SLM
and gamma/CCL procedure.

Once notches have been cut and the tubing pulled, a confirmation log can be obtained using a
three arm caliper and gamma ray. The notches should appear as slight hole enlargements on
the caliper, perhaps as much as three-fourths to an inch deep depending on the hardness of
the formation. During the balance of the treatment procedure of the well, the SLM notch points
will be used once again for calculation of the depths to wash-down and packer set. On frac
day, in addition to the pipe tally, a cross hair affixed to the bottom of the frac packer makes it
possible to measure the depth of the packer with a SLM prior to the start of the wash-down of
the first zone. This adds to the assurance that the zone being treated has been accurately

While some parts of this procedure may seem too cautious, it would seem possible that in the
past a causal attitude toward depth measurements during the completion work contributed to
wells that should have been better. In one case of reworking a well that had been walked away
from by the operator, a three arm caliper was first run to check the depth of the original
notches. It was determined that they had been cut in the zone but not in the best porosity. It
can only be assumed that the treatment did not penetrate the portion of the zone with the most
gas. With accurate depth control we re-notched and re-fraced the well and the result was a
producible well where before there has been little production and considerable water influx.

In conclusion, the extra care and time that it may take to utilize a precise method of
measurement and correlation during open hole work should pay off in dividends from a more
productive well.

Well stimulation

Hydraulic fracturing

Though most coals are naturally fractured, you normally

need to hydraulically fracture coal seams to
produce economic gas flow rates.

In the reservoir, methane gas is adsorbed onto

The surface of the coal.
After the reservoir pressure is lowered and the gas desorbs
from the coal,

It flows through the natural fractures in the coal.

For gas to flow to the well bore at economical rates
effective communication must be established between
the natural coal fractures or cleats
and the well bore
Your well is obstructed by silt, sediment or deposits

The most effective way to create this communication is well obstruction

by fracturing the coal seam.

In fracturing, large volumes of fluid and sand are pumped
at high Pressure down the well bore.

The fluid opens a crack in the coal, and after

the fluid is removed, the sand remains
in place to keep the new channel Open.

The resulting proppant-filled fracture provides a flow path

into the well bore for water and gas.

When successful, hydraulic fracturing

can greatly increase methane production from coal seams.

Water with proppant sand and

chemical injected with high pr.

Though much conventional fracturing technology can be applied

to coal bed fracturing, many techniques have been developed
specifically for coal bed methane wells.
This chapter will explain these techniques
and help you in

• Performing a Minifracture Test

• Planning a Fracture Treatment Design
• Preparing for a Fracture Treatment
• Performing a Fracture Treatment
• Evaluating a Fracture Treatment

Obstruction forcing out

Open-hole cavity completion techniques

The typical procedure for large cavity creation involves injecting air along with water into the well
bottom. As sufficient pressure is built in the well it is suddenly released. Differential pressure at the
coal seam interface causes coal bed methane to suddenly expand, resulting in coal matrix bursting
and sloughing into the well bore. The procedure is repeated for days and weeks.

Another known approach is similar but using high-density fluid for creating pressure in the well.

In both cases hydraulic valves at the wellhead are used for pressure release

The efficiency of such a procedure greatly depends on the time of pressure release. The shorter
the time of pressure release, the more efficient the process. While using the hydraulic valves, this
time is seconds. During this relatively long time, coal bed methane may escape into the well bore
through cleats, with little impact to the matrix.

Enhanced CBM Recovery

The CBM industry is exploring new methods of enhancing gas production from older
fields that have produced for more than 10 years. Several companies are experimenting with
the injection of nitrogen (N) and carbon dioxide (CO2) into the coal bed to displace methane
along the coal face cleats.

Generally, the N2 and/or CO2 molecules replace the methane molecules within the
cleats at a ratio of approximately 4 to 1. This forced gas exchange has resulted in elevated
methane production rates as compared to just lowering the hydrostatic pressure. Injection of
nitrogen, usually generated by manufactured gas plants, reduces the partial pressure and
therefore the concentration of methane in the coals in the fracture system.

Even though the partial pressure is reduced, the total pressure is generally constant
(depending on whether or not the seams hydrostatic pressure is being lowered) and the fluids
maintain head that drives liquids to the production wells. It is theorized that nitrogen injection
affects methane production from the coal seam via inert gas stripping and sorption
displacement. Coals can replace 25% to 50% of their methane storage capacity with nitrogen.

This enhanced production method has a beneficial side effect—the sequestering of

CO2. Carbon dioxide is a common by-product of many industrial processes and is considered
a green house gas. The sequestering of CO2 lowers the amount available to be exhausted to
the atmosphere and helps the United States meet its goal for reduced CO2 emissions.
Laboratory studies indicate that coal adsorbs nearly twice as much volume of CO2 as
methane. There are some concerns, however, that injection of CO2 into mineable coals
presents a safety hazard, as the mines are required to have a limit of 3% CO2 by volume in
the mine air. One potential method for reducing CO2 levels in the mine air is to use a mixture
of CO2 and other gases, such as nitrogen. Studies indicate that for each volume of nitrogen
that is injected, two volumes of methane are produced.

There is growing interest in mixed nitrogen/CO2 injection for two reasons: there may be
a synergy of production mechanisms, and its use would result in the lowering of CO2 levels in
the mine air (EPA 2002a). More research is needed in this arena, but preliminary results are
promising for both CBM production and CO2 sequestering.

Horizontal Drilling

Horizontal drilling

The production of CBM from eastern coals is similar to the western coals except for the use of
horizontal wellbores and extensive use of fracturing to enhance production. With the coals

of higher rank, the methane content per ton of coal is typically higher, but requires additional
enhancement to the natural fractures in many areas to maximize production. Production rates
CBM depend upon local gas content of the coal, local permeability of the coals, hydrostatic
pressure in the coal seam aquifer, completion techniques, and production techniques.

Production CBM

1 Dewatering stage:

2. Production stage

3. Decline stage

1 Dewatering stage:

Most coal seams with gas in commercial quantities contain water that is produced along with
the gas. The coal zones typically require local or regional dewatering before commercial gas
production can be achieved, and the key to economic production is cost-effective reservoir
dewatering techniques.

Most producible coals have a natural cleat or fracture structure that serves as a flow path for
the water and desorbed gas. Production normally requires dewatering one or more coal zones
to reduce the in-situ reservoir pressure below the "critical desorption pressure" at which
methane is released from the coals and flows with the water to the area of pressure drop at the
well bore.

A wide variety of completion and treatment techniques are used, depending on the coal
structure, thickness, porosity and relative permeability. However, regardless of the well
configuration and completion treatment, the operational objectives require maintaining the
lowest possible reservoir pressure to maximize the gas desorption rate, and reducing reservoir
pressure requires pumping the fluid level in the well down to the lowest possible point.

CBM well pumping requirements present challenges due to the nature of the production and
completion methods. The well tubulars are configured so that gas will migrate to the surface in
the annular space between the production tubing and the casing. A pump is typically landed as
low as possible in the well to maximize fluid drawdown, which can result in periods of reduced
fluid volumes and, therefore, increasing internal pump temperatures. Plus, minimal fluid levels
over the pump and a foamy liquid/gas interface can cause gas to migrate to the pump intake,
resulting in internal compression and operating temperature increases.
Another issue for CBM pumping systems is solids in the fluid. Depending on the type of well
completion used to stimulate the coals, a pump can be initially inundated with fracture
proppant. Coal particles also can be carried in the fluid. Both proppant and coal fines are
abrasive and can damage the pumping system components.
These production challenges can mean escalating operating costs, potentially making CBM
projects economically unfeasible. Consequently, a sustainable and reliable pumping system is
critical to the positive payout of a well or field.

In addition to adverse pumping conditions, another major consideration for CBM production
systems is operating costs. Historically, revenue from CBM production has been relatively
marginal due to water handling and disposal costs as well as costs associated with
compressing the gas from as low as 1 psi to a pipeline entry pressure of 300

2. Production stage

In this stage gas starts continuously flow from well and the stage when gas is being sent to the
commercial market. Here goes the maximum production of the well. this is the stable
production for the gas.

3. Decline stage

In this stage the quantity of gas decreases and production of water also decreases
This is the stage when some recovery methods are being applied to recover the gas

Coal bed methane (CBM) or coal seam gas (CSG) production is accelerating in many
countries, as new basins, new plays, new completion techniques are making these huge
resources economical to produce. Australia, for example, is at the forefront of new
developments, with CBM/CSG production rates having increased by 300% in the last year and
dozens of new projects under development. Many of these are being developed to fill an
identified strong market need in the Asia Pacific, but also in the USA, for clean burning
methane, to be exported in the form of LNG. These LNG plants are huge multi-billion dollar
investments, and have to be fed by multi-billion dollar field developments and operations.

Additionally, Australia, like other countries, is soon to embark on an Emissions Trading

Scheme, increasing the demand for clean burning fuels like methane, which is expected to
displace coal for power generation. Production Management Best Practices are required to
keep the fields producing at maximum total-life economic returns, whilst understanding and
managing the risks involved in maintaining the total supply chain to both domestic and export
The teams for each best practice area will consider this initial (non exhaustive) sub-set of
activities & strategies:

• Reservoir Management: Reservoir surveillance; reservoir performance;

integrated modeling; benchmarking; reservoir issues affecting production; water and gas
• Well Management: Well surveillance; well automation; well modeling; well deliverability;
artificial lift; infill drilling; completion techniques; production enhancement.
• Production Systems and Facilities Management: Gathering Systems; flow
assurance and bottleneck prevention/debottlenecking; gas and water separation; infield
compression; facilities shutdowns.
• Protecting the Environment While Maximizing Production: Water and waste
management; emissions minimization; noise issues; regulatory environment; disturbance
• Social Performance: Safety; Community Impact; Regulatory; Staffing and Training.


Most CBM reservoirs initially produce only water because the cleats are filled with
water. Typically, water must be produced continuously from coal seams to reduce
reservoir pressure and release the gas. The cost to treat and dispose the produced water
can be a critical factor in the economics of a coal bed methane project. Once the pressure
in the cleat system is lowered by water production to the “critical desorption pressure,”
gas will desorb from the matrix. Critical desorption pressure, as illustrated on Figure 5, is
the pressure on the sorption isotherm that corresponds to the initial gas content. As the
desorption process continues, a free methane gas saturation builds up within the cleat
system. Once the gas saturation exceeds the critical gas saturation, the desorbed gas will
flow along with water through the cleat system to the production well.
Gas desorption from the matrix surface in turn causes molecular diffusion to occur within
the coal matrix. The diffusion through the coal matrix is controlled by the concentration
gradient and can be described by Fick’s Law:
= 2.697σ ρ ( − ) gm c c c s q D V G G
gm q = Gas production (diffusion) rate, MCF/day

σ = matrix shape factor, dimensionless

D = matrix diffusivity constant, sec-1
c V = Matrix volume, ft3

= Matrix Density, g/cm3
c G = Average matrix gas content, SCF/ton
Diffusivity and shape factor are usually combined into one parameter, referred to as
sorption time, as follows:
Sorption time (τ ) is the time required to desorb 63.2 percent of the initial gas volume.
The Sorption time characterizes the diffusion effects and generally is determined from
desorption test results.
Darcy’s law can adequately represent the two-phase flow in the cleat system. Cleat
system porosity, permeability and relative permeability control fluid flow within the cleat
system. As the desorption process continues, gas saturation within the cleat system
Increases and flow of methane becomes increasingly more dominant. Thus, water
production declines rapidly until the gas rate reaches the peak value and water saturation
approaches the irreducible water saturation. The typical production behavior of a CBM
reservoir is illustrated in Figure 8. After the peak gas rate production is achieved, the
behavior of CBM reservoirs becomes similar to conventional gas reservoirs.
Coal bed methane production behavior is complex and difficult to predict or analyze,
especially at the early stages of recovery. This is because gas production from CBM
reservoirs is governed by the complex interaction of single-phase gas diffusion through
the micro pore system (matrix) and two-phase gas and water flow through the macro pore
(cleat) system, that are coupled through the desorption process. Therefore, conventional
reservoir engineering techniques cannot be used to predict CBM production behavior.
The best tool to predict the performance of CBM reservoirs is a numerical reservoir
simulator that incorporates the unique flow and storage characteristics of CBM reservoirs
and accounts for various mechanisms that control CBM production. In addition, history
matching with a simulator is one of the key tools for determining reservoir parameters

that are often difficult to obtain by other techniques

Coal bed methane (CBM) is the fastest growing unconventional natural gas resource, and
energy companies are rapidly climbing the learning curve to economically maximize production
from coal seams throughout the world.
Today, there are an estimated 30,000 producing CBM wells in the United States - by far the
most active region of the world for CBM production. However, activity in Canada has increased
since 2000, when there were less than 200 wells, to approximately 3,900 wells today,
producing over 150 MMcfgd. Reserve estimates vary depending on the reporting agency;
however, the most consistent figures indicate the mature producing basins in the United States
account for an estimated 17 Tcf of recoverable reserves, and emerging developing US basins
have an estimated 35 Tcf of gas reserves. The bulk of US reserves are in the Rocky Mountain
basins as well as the Black Warrior Basin of Alabama and the Appalachian Basin. The 700 Tcf
of estimated reserves in Canada include 500 Tcf in Alberta, where much of the activity is
taking place today, with the balance primarily in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Nova

Production concerns
Most coal seams with gas in commercial quantities contain water that is produced along with
the gas. The coal zones typically require local or regional dewatering before commercial gas
production can be achieved, and the key to economic production is cost-effective reservoir
dewatering techniques. CBM plays such as the Powder River Basin, Black Warrior Basin,
Manville coals of Alberta and coals in Australia all require dewatering to realize economically
attractive recovery rates.

Most producible coals have a natural cleat or fracture structure that serves as a flow path for
the water and desorbed gas. Production normally requires dewatering one or more coal zones
to reduce the in-situ reservoir pressure below the "critical desorption pressure" at which
methane is released from the coals and flows with the water to the area of pressure drop at the
well bore.
A wide variety of completion and treatment techniques are used, depending on the coal
structure, thickness, porosity and relative permeability. However, regardless of the well
configuration and completion treatment, the operational objectives require maintaining the
lowest possible reservoir pressure to maximize the gas desorption rate, and reducing reservoir
pressure requires pumping the fluid level in the well down to the lowest possible point.

CBM well pumping requirements present challenges due to the nature of the production and
completion methods. The well tubulars are configured so that gas will migrate to the surface in
the annular space between the production tubing and the casing. A pump is typically landed as
low as possible in the well to maximize fluid drawdown, which can result in periods of reduced
fluid volumes and, therefore, increasing internal pump temperatures. Plus, minimal fluid levels
over the pump and a foamy liquid/gas interface can cause gas to migrate to the pump intake,
resulting in internal compression and operating temperature increases.

Another issue for CBM pumping systems is solids in the fluid. Depending on the type of well
completion used to stimulate the coals, a pump can be initially inundated with fracture
proppant. Coal particles also can be carried in the fluid. Both proppant and coal fines are
abrasive and can damage the pumping system components.

These production challenges can mean escalating operating costs, potentially making CBM
projects economically unfeasible. Consequently, a sustainable and reliable pumping system is
critical to the positive payout of a well or field.

In addition to adverse pumping conditions, another major consideration for CBM production
systems is operating costs. Historically, revenue from CBM production has been relatively
marginal due to water handling and disposal costs as well as costs associated with
compressing the gas from as low as 1 psi to a pipeline entry pressure of 300 psi to 1,500 psi.
With these operational and economic hurdles to overcome, operators have challenged pump
manufacturers to develop cost-effective solutions.

Artificial lift options

Traditionally, electrical submersible water well systems and rod-driven progressing cavity
pumping systems (PCPs) have been employed to dewater CBM wells. However, reliability has
been an issue with water well equipment, while cost considerations have stymied PCP and
more rugged oilfield electrical submersible pumping systems. To overcome these issues,
oilfield service companies have designed pumping systems specifically for CBM applications,
providing more rugged yet cost-effective equipment.
For example, Centrilift developed a 30 hp drive head for rod-driven progressing cavity pumping
systems as a more cost-effective fit for the 10 hp to 30 hp applications typical of shallow CBM
wells. PCP systems have been used in CBM wells since 1986, both as the primary dewatering
system and as a solution for troublesome wells, since PCPs can effectively pump coal fines,

sand particles and gaseous fluids. Plus, PCP is a positive displacement system with the output
rate directly tied to the speed of the pump. This feature allows the system to be adjusted via
pump speed to match the decline curve of the water production, eliminating over-pumping the

The single or double helix design of the steel rotor in a PCP pump, coupled with the stator,
which is a steel tube with an elastomer permanently bonded inside, provides a design with
sealed cavities within the pump. As this seal line moves up along the pump, any solid particles
are trapped between the rotor and stator and temporarily deflect the elastomer until the seal
line passes and the solids re-enter the fluid stream.

Gas impacts a pump by taking up space meant for fluid and, in many systems, can cause
grossly inefficient fluid production, intermittent production or a gas-locked pump. The main
effect of gas on PCPs is a decrease of volumetric efficiencies. A PCP of a given capacity
moves a given volume per revolution, regardless of whether that volume is oil, gas or some
combination. As a general rule, 40% free gas at the pump intake is considered acceptable and
will not adversely impact pump life.

PCP elastomers balance the needs of CBM production. The elastomer is flexible enough to
provide the deflection needed to pass solids through the pump without gross erosion of the
elastomer or the chrome plate of the rotor. The elastomer constituents and structural matrix
are designed to remain stable while in operation in order to resist expansion that can occur
due to decompression caused by gas migration into the rubber as well as resisting swelling
from exposure to water.

As with any oil and gas play, specific applica-tions dictate the choice of production equipment.
While PCPs are suited for wells with abrasive conditions, electrical submersible pumping
(ESP) systems are a good choice for wells with water volumes above 1,200 bbl of fluid per

Electrical submersible pumping systems have been used in CBM wells since about 1999, but
initially water well systems were employed due to the low cost of the equipment. However,
water well systems cannot handle coal fines and other solids. During the initial dewatering
stage, the water is relatively clean (in wells where sand proppant is not used during the
completion), but as the well is drawn down, more solids enter the system. As a result, the
water well equipment runs reasonably well for a period of time but then fails as the coal fines

As the CBM market has matured, a growing number of producers with oil industry
backgrounds have jumped into these unconventional plays, and those companies have sought
better equipment choices. Oilfield service companies were approached to supply hybrid ESP
systems that are more robust than water well systems but still cost-effective for CBM wells.
The ideal solution was an oilfield-type pump, which is more resistant to abrasives, with a water
well-type motor and surface package.

In addition to a more robust design, oilfield service companies were challenged to develop a
system that could go deeper and fit in smaller casing sizes. Traditional water well motors rated
over 10 hp are too large for small casing, and below about 2,000 ft (610 m) the water
temperature exceeds the limits of water well systems. To overcome these challenges, Centrilift
recently developed its 450 CBM motor with an integral motor/seal design.

The 450 CBM motor is a redesign of the conventional oilfield 450 motor train with no threads
on the ends - the head and base are welded. A single shaft is used for the motor and the
single chamber seal. The thrust bearing and motor carry the pump load versus both a motor
and seal thrust bearing in a standard oilfield configuration. The motor leads for the electrical
cable come directly out of the motor head, unlike a standard motor that has a separate plug-in
The biggest challenges for the new design were the motor head redesign, making it part of the
seal. Also, there is only one mechanical seal in the unit, so to provide some redundancy in the
event of a seal leak, a lip seal was included under the mechanical seal at a dramatic cost
savings compared to the traditional design.

To further reduce operating costs, the motor is pre-filled and pre-serviced and can be installed
by the operator, which eliminates field service costs. Additionally, the cable splice design is
common to operators, making installation by the operator feasible.

The 450 CBM motor is designed for applications from 20 hp to 30 hp and up to 2,200 ft (670
m) deep. The motor is run below the perforations. Down to 2,200 ft, the water temperature is
cool enough to keep the motor cool. The most significant advantage of the new motor is the
cost savings associated with drilling smaller cased wells versus the 7-in. casing required for
water well systems over 10 hp.

An operating company exploring for and producing CBM from vertical wells in the eastern
United States has increased its anticipated 5-year cumulative CBM production by 40%, and its
estimated ultimate recovery (EUR) by 57% in three wells selected for a pilot study. The
production improvement was observed in a pilot project of three CBM wells that were in the
early development phase of the CBM well lifecycle. The five phases of CBM wells are (1)
regional resources reconnaissance (2) local asset evaluation, (3) early development, (4)
mature development and (5) declining production.

In the field trials, the service company employed a remedial stimulation service (RSS) that
provides a back flush to help remove particulate damage while treating formation particulates
(coal, shales, clays) to restrict their mobility. Chemicals included in the treating solution initially
act as "clotbusters," breaking apart the internal particle bridges and agglomerates of coal fines
and precipitates, then act as "clot-formers," imparting a tacky surface to the coal particle
surfaces. Coal particles then adhere to each other, and the clots adhere to formation features
and proppant grains away from the fluid flowpaths. This process, for which a patent is pending,
results in a highly conductive flowpath from the coal matrix to the fracture and well bore, and
significantly delays re-plugging.

In CBM reservoirs, attaining maximum differential pressure from the coal surrounding the well
bore is key to effective drainage of methane through desorption.

Figures 1 through 3 show the production improvement results seen in the three trial wells.
Because field trials showed the new potential of the Phase 3 field, the the operator was able to
upgrade its asset. Further, the operating company is expanding its acreage position to exploit
the new-found production potential provided by the RSS. All three production graphs in Figures
1 through 3, illustrating the July 2003 to June 2004 period, show significant upturn in methane
production following treatments in the March - May period. The increase began after the wells
were brought back to production after remedial stimulation.

Figure 1. Well 1 production increase from use of the RSS. The vertical lines in Figures 1 - 3
indicate dates of RSS treatments.

Figure 2. Well 2 production increase from use of the RSS.

Figure 3. Well 3 production increase from use of the RSS.

How it works

Figure 4 is photomicrograph that illustrates blockage formed by clots of migrating coal fines
within the propped fracture. The fines are carried toward the well bore during CBM production.
To remediate the damage and prepare the well for a longer productive lifespan, the operator
pumps the low-viscosity treatment fluid into the damaged fractures, breaking down the clots of
coal fines and displacing the blockage away from the central flow paths within the fracture
system. The well is shut-in to allow the chemical process to perform its job of locking the fines
in place, preventing them from re-bridging and infiltrating the proppant flow paths. Some
agglomerated fines will adhere to proppant and others to the formation surfaces.

Other key functions of the RSS chemistry are to (1) degrade residual organic polymers, and (2)
dissolve insitu geochemical precipitates or carbonate scales that may be contributing
collectively to premature production declines.

Figure 4 illustrates the tendency of coal fines to collect in pore spaces; eventually, such
plugging may result in damage to permeability and conductivity. The post treatment view in
Figure 5 shows fines segregated, stuck together in large groupings, and immobilized on
proppant surfaces. Pore spaces are not plugged by the immobilized fines.


Since the late 1990s, the production company has operated a 125-well field where production
rates range from near zero to about 350 Mcf/day. After reviewing the results of the RSS in
western US CBM basins, the company investigated the potential of applying RSS techniques
to its fields. A new on-the-fly delivery process, improved chemistry and zonal isolation
techniques were designed to increase process efficiency. A key to success for this project was

to match the new remedial solution to the challenging economics involved in boosting
production without drilling new wells, re-fracturing, or applying other capital-intensive options.

After review of production response, field geology, well completions and placement options,
the operator decided to try the RSS, which was designed to provide the option of on-the-fly or
batch-mixing processes. The chemical formulation in the RSS is designed for treating CBM
wells in either a remedial post-fracture mode or in conjunction with a primary well-stimulation

Due to the first trial focus of the technology in the region in addition to a trial of the new
chemistry in these coals, the batch-mix option was selected for the initial proof of concept

Figure 5. In this view, the RSS-treated

Figure 4. This photomicrograph of an
fracture sand traps and holds migrating coal
untreated fracture shows that coal fines tend
fines on the leading edge (toward the flow) of
to migrate and block pore spaces, reducing
the grains, helping to prevent the fines from
conductivity to the well bore.
plugging pore spaces.

Field summary

One of the trial objectives was to test two different methods for fluid placement in the multi-
seam completions where up to 25 coal seams had been perforated and hydraulically fractured.
One method used was to apply treatments down the backside, i.e., down the tubing/casing
annulus, and back up the tubing, with no seam isolation. This approach, although low in cost,
was not expected to return a significant production increase. However, it was used in one pilot
well to establish its capability.

Figure 6 illustrates the annular application method. Note that most of the treatment fluid goes
into the lower seams because the only pressure applied is the hydrostatic pressure from the
fluid column; more of the pressure is applied against the lower coal seams.

Wells stimulated by this cheaper annular method yielded production increases of only 3% to
10%. Payout was 6 months of production. Although this was a positive outcome, results of
using the isolation treatments were more successful from an economic result viewpoint.

Isolation treatments

The second method evaluated included in the treatment package was one that required use of
a workover rig. This technique was expected to produce more effective results, since seam
packages were isolated to help ensure treatment fluid was placed where needed. This
approach allowed the operator the opportunity to achieve optimal treatment performance while
adapting the RSS process to the challenge of multi-scam completions.

Figure 7 shows schematically how the RSS is applied to a multi-seam well. The method
requires removal of the pump jack and use of a workover rig to remove production tubing and
associated equipment. The many coal seams are grouped (three to five seams per group) for
treatment, with the lower group treated first, the second group of seams treated second, and
so on. In the illustration, the lower group of three seams has been treated and a bridge plug
installed above the group to provide a new "bottom" to the well. A treating packer is set above
the second group of seams, which are now being stimulated by the RSS. This process is
continued from bottom up until all seams are treated.

Production improvement on the three well pilot program resulted in payouts of about 3 months,
despite the added expense of using a workover rig.

Figure 6. A remedial treatment applied through the tubing/casing annulus tends to break out
through the lower perforations because hydrostatic pressure is greater there. Upper
perforations may receive little or no stimulation

Figure 7. Using the isolation-treatment method, production tubing is removed and the RSS
treatment is applied to small groups of perforations that are isolated from the remainder of the
perforations. In this manner, each coal seam has a greater likelihood of receiving fracture


Comparison of the Technology

Summery of specific options for utilization of Coal-bed methane

a. Power Generation - CBM can be ideal fuel for co-generation Power plants to bring in higher
efficiency and is preferred fuel for new thermal power plant on count of lower capital
investment and higher operational efficiency.

b. Auto Fuel in form of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) - CNG is already an established
clean and environment friendly fuel. Depending upon the availability of CBM, this could be a
good end use. Utilization of recovered CBM as fuel in form of CNG for mine dump truck is a
good option.

c. Feed stock for Fertilizer – Many of the fertilizer plants in the vicinity of coal mines where
coal bed methane is drained, have started utilizing fuel oil as feedstock for its cracker complex.

d. Use of CBM at Steel Plants - Blast furnace operations use metallurgical coke to produce
most of the energy required to melt the iron ore to iron. Since coke is becoming increasingly
expensive, in the countries where CBM is available, the steel industry is seeking low-capital
options that reduce coke consumption, increase productivity and reduce operating costs.

e. Fuel for Industrial Use - It may provide an economical fuel for a number of industries like
cement plant, refractory, steel rolling mills etc.

f. CBM use in Methanol production - Methanol is a key component of many products.

and gasoline blends are common in many countries for use in road vehicles. Formaldehyde
resinsand acetic acid are the major raw material in the chemical industry, manufactured from

g. Other uses - Besides above, option for linkages of coal-bed methane through cross country
pipe lines may be considered .

India is third largest producer of coal in the world. If recovered effectively, coal bed
methane (CBM) gas associated with coal reserves and emitted during coal mining could be a
Significant potential source of energy in coal-rich but often economically poor regions.
Utilization of CBM would introduce a clean energy source and reduce local pollution and
emissions of greenhouse gases. It is important to note that methane is a greenhouse gas
approximately 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

CBM in India is still at an early stage of development with both public and private companies
looking to develop the skills and services in-country to become the market leader.

With the new economic policy, India has made rapid strides in development in the past
decade. This has increased demand for energy, which is now creating an ever-increasing
gap of demand and supply. To bridge this gap, various sources of energy are being
considered. Areas presentlybeing explored include gas hydrates, basin centred gas, shale gas,
tight gas, basement oil, geo-bioreactors etc. Mostof these ‘unconventional’ hydrocarbon
resources are in the early exploration/R&D stage; however, coal bed methane
(CBM) is produced commercially in the US. CBM is presently being actively explored in India
and having matured from the R&D stage, is on a fast track to commercial exploitation.