The Appalachian basin is the world's second largest coalbed-methane (CBM) producing basin. It has nearly 4000 wells with 1996 annual production at 147.8 billion cubic feet (Bcf). Cumulative CBM production is close to 0.9 trillion cubic feet (Tcf). The Black Warrior Basin of Alabama in the southern Appalachian basin (including a very minor amount from the Cahaba coal field) accounts for about 75% of this annual production and about 75% of the wells, and the remainder comes from the central and northern Appalachian basin. The Southwest Virginia coal field accounts for about 95% of the production from the central and northern parts of the Appalachian basin. Production data and trends imply that several of the Appalachian basin states, except for Alabama and Virginia, are in their infancy with respect to CBM development. Total in-place CBM resources in the central and northern Appalachian basin have been variously estimated at 66 to 76 trillion cubic feet (Tcf), of which an estimated 14.55 Tcf (~ 20%) is technically recoverable according to a 1995 U.S. Geological Survey assessment. For comparison in the Black Warrior basin of the 20 Tcf in-place CBM resources, 2.30 Tcf (~ 12%) is technically recoverable. Because close to 0.9 Tcf of CBM has already been produced from the Black Warrior basin and the proved reserves are about 0.8 Tcf for 1996 [Energy Information Administration (EIA), 1997]. U.S. Crude Oil, Natural Gas, and Natural Gas Liquids Reserves, 1996 Annual Report. U.S. Department of Energy DOE/EIA-0216(96), 145 pp.], these data imply that the central and northern Appalachian basin could become increasingly important in the Appalachian basin CBM picture as CBM resources are depleted in the southern Appalachian basin (Black Warrior Basin and Cahaba Coal Field). CBM development in the Appalachian states could decrease the eastern U.S.A.'s dependence on coal for electricity. CBM is expected to provide over the next few decades a virtually untapped source of unconventional fossil fuel in the Appalachian states, where the CBM resources are large and the demand for cleaner fossil-fuel energy is high.The central and northern Appalachian basin could become increasingly important in the Appalachian basin coalbed methane (CBM) picture as CBM resources are depleted in the southern Appalachian basin. Total in-place CBM resources in the central and the northern Appalachian basin have been estimated at 66 to 76 Tcf, of which 14.55 Tcf is technically recoverable.
Additional publication details
The central and northern Appalachian Basin-a frontier region for coalbed methane development