Mining Publication: Integration of Vertical and In-Seam Horizontal Well Production Analyses with Stochastic Geostatistical Algorithms to Estimate Pre-Mining Methane Drainage Efficiency from Coal Seams: Blue Creek Seam, Alabama
Original creation date: July 2013
Authors: C Karacan
Coal seam degasification and its efficiency are directly related to the safety of coal mining. Degasification activities in the Black Warrior basin started in the early 1980s by using vertical boreholes. Although the Blue Creek seam, which is part of the Mary Lee coal group, has been the main seam of interest for coal mining, vertical wellbores have also been completed in the Pratt, Mary Lee, and Black Creek coal groups of the Upper Pottsville formation to degasify multiple seams. Currently, the Blue Creek seam is further degasified 2–3 years in advance of mining using in-seam horizontal boreholes to ensure safe mining.
The studied location in this work is located between Tuscaloosa and Jefferson counties in Alabama and was degasified using 81 vertical boreholes, some of which are still active. When the current long mine expanded its operation into this area in 2009, horizontal boreholes were also drilled in advance of mining for further degasification of only the Blue Creek seam to ensure a safe and a productive operation. This paper presents an integrated study and a methodology to combine history matching results from vertical boreholes with production modeling of horizontal boreholes using geostatistical simulation to evaluate spatial effectiveness of in-seam boreholes in reducing gas-in-place (GIP).
Results in this study showed that in-seam wells' boreholes had an estimated effective drainage area of 2050 acres with cumulative production of 604 MMscf methane during ~2 years of operation. With horizontal borehole production, GIP in the Blue Creek seam decreased from an average of 1.52 MMscf to 1.23 MMscf per acre. It was also shown that effective gas flow capacity, which was independently modeled using vertical borehole data, affected horizontal borehole production. GIP and effective gas flow capacity of coal seam gas were also used to predict remaining gas potential for the Blue Creek seam.
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