Russia’s resource base ensures commercial CBM production

Viktor Gergert

Viktor Gergert, Chief Engineer – First Deputy Director General, Gazprom dobycha Kuznetsk

Within the CBM production project, a comprehensive approach to CBM field development is to be elaborated in order to obtain a new energy carrier that may be used in the energy sector, as a motor fuel and for gasification.

Gazprom dobycha Kuznetsk has recently commenced pilot commercial CBM production in the Taldinskaya area. During the exploration activities carried out in 2009, 7 wells were drilled to the depth of 600 to 960 meters penetrating the pay intervals with the total thickness of 24 meters. 37 formations were treated with hydraulic fracturing. We have already confirmed the C1 and С2 reserves in the amount of 933 and 44.85 billion cubic meters, respectively, and accepted them on the balance. The Taldinskaya area gas reserves account for 95.3 billion cubic meters.

In 2010 it is projected to produce 4.2 million cubic meters of gas in the Taldinskaya area. Subsequently, as new areas are brought into development, methane production will increase multifold.

According to the business plan, in the initial areas of the Southern Kuzbass group annual gas production will reach 1.6 billion cubic meters within the first 5 years of wells operation and 4 billion cubic meters by 2020.

Initially, natural gas will be used as a motor fuel and for electric power generation. As soon as in several years – in 2013–2014 – the trunkline is to be fed with natural gas.

The projected level of gas production in the Southern Kuzbass group is commensurate with the amount of gas consumption in the Kemerovo Oblast. We’ll be able to fully replace natural gas supplied from the northern region with our own gas, thus reducing transportation costs.

CBM, as opposed to conventional gas, is in an adsorbed (bound) state, which requires specific production technologies. Although average CBM well production rates are lower than those of conventional wells, gas production costs are nearly the same or even lower if we take into account gas transportation to ultimate consumers. Meanwhile, CBM is better than natural gas since its methane content may reach 98 per cent.

In addition, CBM production will allow for secure coal mining in future – a reduction in natural gas content of coals eliminates the need for coal mine degassing, which ensures cost saving.

Russia’s resource base ensures commercial CBM production. CBM reserves, estimated at 83 trillion cubic meters, are commensurate with conventional natural gas fields. There are several large coal basins in Russia. CBM resources of the Tungussky basin are estimated at 20 trillion cubic meters, the aggregate resources of the Lensky and Taimyrsky basins – 11 trillion cubic meters, the Pechorsky basin – 1.942 trillion cubic meters, the Yuzhno-Yakutsky basin – 0.920 trillion cubic meters. However, when evaluating feasibility of CBM production in these basins, it should be noted that they are remote from ultimate consumers and that the regional infrastructure is poorly developed.

The Kuznetsky coal basin resources, according to recent data, account for 13 trillion cubic meters, including 6 trillion cubic meters in the Southern Kuzbass group of fields operated by Gazprom.

In 2010 Gazprom is planning to launch prospecting drilling in another area of the Southern Kuzbass group of fields – the Naryksko-Ostashkinskaya area. So far, exploration and appraisal drilling is underway. According to our estimates, CBM potential here is even higher than that in the Taldinskaya area.

Gas resources in the Naryksko-Ostashkinskaya area make up to 918 billion cubic meters and С1+С2 reserves, according to preliminary data, may reach 35 billion cubic meters.

Development of the Southern Kuzbass group of fields goes further. Within the license area, there are a number of prospects where CBM may be produced.

Alexey Kontorovich

Alexey Kontorovich, Academician, Presidium Chairman of Kemerovo Scientific Center, Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences, RAS

Being a non-conventional reservoir, coal contains vast resources of natural gas. In Kuzbass alone these resources may achieve 13 trillion cubic meters, which is commensurate with those of the Urengoy field, one of the world’s largest fields.

Coalbed methane (CBM) resources are huge, although the relevant production technologies lack approbation. Therefore, it is very encouraging that Gazprom is trying to do that. Gazprom was the first Russian company to accept CBM reserves on the balance and to launch their pilot commercial production. The Institute of Coal and Coal Chemistry of the Kemerovo Scientific Center, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences (SB RAS), is also involved in these activities.

CBM is similar to the Cenomanian gas from Western Siberia by composition. However, CBM is also featured with low pressure and lower productivity as compared to conventional gas fields. It is necessary to build gas compression facilities for CBM treatment.

Due to higher prime costs, long-distance transportation of CBM is unlikely to be economically viable. However, according to SB RAS estimations, CBM supply to the regions located near production areas will pay off even if the current gas prices remain unchanged.

Another important aspect here is the necessity of coal bed degassing that will subsequently ensure safe coal production. So far, CBM is being produced in a number of countries including the USA, Australia and some others. Thus, China is planning to annually produce 10 billion cubic meters of CBM by 2013.

In Russia, Gazprom has launched a pilot CBM project in Kuzbass. Nevertheless, we may expect that in the long term the economic significance of CBM will grow.

The opinions expressed in this section may not necessarily coincide with the official position of Gazprom