Mining Publication: Probability of Encountering Coalbed Discontinuities During Vertical and Horizontal Borehole Drilling
Probabilities of encountering coalbed discontinuities during vertical or horizontal drilling in a specific coalbed can be estimated based on analysis of mined-out areas of the coalbed where the size, shape, orientation, and distribution of discontinuities are known. The resultant probability estimates can be applied to cost-risk evaluations of drilling programs proposed for exploratory, developmental, or methane drainage purposes in undeveloped areas of that coalbed. Data compiled from mine maps of the Beckley Coalbed in southern West Virginia were used to estimate the probabilities that discontinuities would be encountered in two illustrative hypothetical drilling programs--one for drilling vertical boreholes and the other for drilling horizontal boreholes. Analysis based on a mined-out area of the Beckley coalbed indicated that vertical methane drainage boreholes spaced 1,000 feet apart in a square grid pattern would each have a 29-percent probability of encountering a discontinuity in a geologically unexplored area of the coalbed. It was also determined that exploratory vertical drilling could locate most of the discontinuities if a borehole spacing of 2,500 feet were used. For horizontal drainage boreholes in the Beckley coalbed, the analysis indicated a linear relationship between hole length and the probability of encountering a discontinuity.