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One of the largest potential gas resources of the Atlantic Coast margin may lie in coal beds and adjacent strata of the Warrior basin in Alabama and Mississippi. The resource assessment phase of the Department of Energy's Methane Recovery from Coalbeds Project (DOW/MRCP) conservatively estimates gas content of Warrior basin coals to be 10 Tcf.
The Warrior basin is a triangular area in northern Mississippi and Alabama containing extensive gaseous bituminous coal reserves. The major coal seams, in the upper Pottsville Formation, formed as clastic material filled in the channel-lake-swamp environments of a Late Pennsylvanian upper delta plain. Of the seven major coal groups in the upper Pottsville, the Mary Lee Group and Black Creek Group have been identified as likely candidates to be coal-bed gas reservoirs. Direct measurement of coal core samples indicates that gas content ranges from 2 cc/g (64 cu ft/ton) from 700 ft (213 m) of overburden to 18 cc/g (576 cu ft/ton) at a depth of 2,000 ft (610 m).
Coal operators in the basin are keenly interested in developing coal bed methane both to increase safety of underground mines through degasification in advance of mining and as a marketable product to be pipelined or used on site. After 2 years of operation, the U.S. Steel mines near Oak Grove, Alabama, have produced 750 MMcf of gas from a 17-well field, with an average gas flow per well of 70,000 cf/day. The Jim Walters Resource Co. has an in-mine system which collects the gas for local use. One horizontal well produced 40 MMcf of methane over its lifetime of 10 months. These and other examples support the conclusion that the Warrior basin contains an economically recoverable resource for meeting local and national energy needs.
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