Sorption of gas onto coal is sensitive to pressure and temperature, and carbon dioxide can be a potentially volatile supercritical fluid in coalbed methane reservoirs. More than 5000 wells have been drilled in the coalbed methane fields of the Black Warrior basin in west-central Alabama, and the hydrologic and geothermic information from geophysical well logs provides a robust database that can be used to assess the potential for carbon sequestration in coal-bearing strata.Reservoir temperature within the coalbed methane target zone generally ranges from 80 to 125 ??F (27-52 ??C), and geothermal gradient ranges from 6.0 to 19.9 ??F/1000 ft (10.9-36.2 ??C/km). Geothermal gradient data have a strong central tendency about a mean of 9.0 ??F/1000 ft (16.4 ??C/km). Hydrostatic pressure gradients in the coalbed methane fields range from normal (0.43 psi/ft) to extremely underpressured (<0.05 psi/ft). Pressure-depth plots establish a bimodal regime in which 70% of the wells have pressure gradients greater than 0.30 psi/ft, and 20% have pressure gradients lower than 0.10 psi/ft. Pockets of underpressure are developed around deep longwall coal mines and in areas distal to the main hydrologic recharge zone, which is developed in structurally upturned strata along the southeastern margin of the basin.Geothermal gradients within the coalbed methane fields are high enough that reservoirs never cross the gas-liquid condensation line for carbon dioxide. However, reservoirs have potential for supercritical fluid conditions beyond a depth of 2480 ft (756 m) under normally pressured conditions. All target coal beds are subcritically pressured in the northeastern half of the coalbed methane exploration fairway, whereas those same beds were in the supercritical phase window prior to gas production in the southwestern half of the fairway. Although mature reservoirs are dewatered and thus are in the carbon dioxide gas window, supercritical conditions may develop as reservoirs equilibrate toward a normal hydrostatic pressure gradient after abandonment. Coal can hold large quantities of carbon dioxide under supercritical conditions, and supercritical isotherms indicate non-Langmiur conditions under which some carbon dioxide may remain mobile in coal or may react with formation fluids or minerals. Hence, carbon sequestration and enhanced coalbed methane recovery show great promise in subcritical reservoirs, and additional research is required to assess the behavior of carbon dioxide in coal under supercritical conditions where additional sequestration capacity may exist. ?? 2003 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
Additional publication details
Temperature-pressure conditions in coalbed methane reservoirs of the Black Warrior basin: Implications for carbon sequestration and enhanced coalbed methane recovery