Oil & Natural Gas Projects
Exploration and Production Technologies
Handbooks for Preparing, Evaluation Development, Environmental Plans and Background
Development Pertinent to Coal Bed Methane Production
The project was selected under the 2001 DOE Broad Based Announcement - Environmental
Section, solicitation DE-PS26-02NT41422. The Oil and Gas Environmental program
focuses on maximizing domestic oil and gas production by reducing the cost of
effective environmental protection. Most oil and gas production in the U.S. is
from mature fields, and many wells are nearing their economic limit. As income
from these wells declines, many of the operating costs, such as environmental
compliance, remain static or increase, forcing the operator to abandon the wells
even though a substantial amount of recoverable oil remains. This program works
to reduce the costs associated with complying with state and federal environmental
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Animation courtesy ALL Consulting LLC, Tulsa, OK
The goals are: 1) Develop a Primer which reviews the development and mitigation
practices employed in various coalbed methane (CBM) regions. 2) Prepare a Handbook
encompassing existing Environmental Impact Statements (EISs) and other NEPA
planning documents relevant to CBM areas.
Arthur Langhus Layne, LLC (ALL Consulting)
Montana Board of Oil & Gas Conservation
Research for the project has resulted in publication of three volumes: 1) Handbook
on Best Management Practices and Mitigation Strategies for Coalbed Methane in
the Montana Portion of the Powder River Basin, 2) Handbook on Coalbed Methane
Produced Water: Management and Beneficial Use Alternatives, 3) Coalbed Methane
Primer - New Source of Natural Gas-Environmental Implications.
Publication of the three handbooks has made readily available valuable information
on development of coal bed methane plays, national and regional location of
plays, technologies for treating CBM produced water, alternative beneficial
uses for CBM produced water, environmental issues and regulatory guidelines.
The three publications are available from the U.S. Department of Energy, and
have been distributed widely at national and regional conferences where CBM
issues were on the agenda. The information provided in the handbooks has been
useful to answer the many questions arising from the general public and concerned
parties on coalbed methane development.
Private and government emphasis in recent years has stressed the growing importance
of natural gas as a prime source of energy for industrial, power and residential
heating needs in the U.S. CBM is of vital interest in the search for new natural
gas resources. CBM resources in the Rocky Mountain states have generated an
industry drilling boom during the past decade. CBM represents 9% of all natural
gas produced in the U.S. Interest is high, particularly in Wyoming, Montana
and New Mexico. However, development brings with it a growing concern about
how to handle the produced water. Over 14 billion bbl/year of produced water
was generated in the U.S. in 2002, according to a recent Argonne National Laboratory
- Performed analysis of Best Management Practices for CBM development in southeastern
- Prepared a broad overview of coal and coalbed methane resources in the
- Summarized the federal and state regulations pertaining to water rights
in states with significant CBM resources.
- Made a study of available technologies for treatment of water, and evaluated
them in relationship to their usefulness for treatment of CBM produced water.
- Reverse osmosis
- Ion Exchange
- Freeze thaw evaporation
- Artificial Wetlands
- Rapid spray distillation
- Summarized the various alternative beneficial uses for produced water, with
comments on application of water with varying degrees of salinity and mineral
- Summarized the regulatory framework of state and federal laws governing
CBM development in the western United States with regard to: water use, Endangered
Species Act, Antiquities Act, National Historic Preservation Act, Tribal Resources
and Split Estates.
- Reviewed the U.S. demand needs for natural gas and provided information
on the differences in production means and affects on CMB and conventional
Best Practices are identified as a suite of techniques, procedures, measures
or practices which are site specific, economically feasible and are used to
guide, or may be applied to, management actions to aid in achieving desired
outcomes. As applied to CBM development best practices to not constitute state
or federal regulations, but may aid the operator in fulfilling the regulations.
The key to low-cost CBM produced water management is to make beneficial use
of the water, as an alternative to reinjection. Produced water uses can be grouped
into surface discharge, impoundments, agricultural and industrial uses. Surface
discharge includes releasing the produced water directly to the land surface,
into a flowing stream or into an impoundment. Impoundments constructed by earthen
dams provide water for wildlife watering and habitat, fisheries and fishing
ponds, recreation, wetlands, and recharge for subsurface aquifers. Waters managed
by the states and federal agencies provide long-term public benefits.
Local ranchers, industries and municipalities make use of produced water directly
for agriculture and industrial pursuits. Agricultural uses include livestock
watering, irrigation, and soil remediation. Industrial uses include dust control,
drilling and development fluids for coal, oil and natural gas recovery, cooling
water for power generation and chemical plants, and to provide a ready source
of water for rural and urban fire protection.
The Handbooks and Guidebooks written for this project summarizes the knowledge
of CBM development, produced water disposal and related environmental issues.
Economics of natural gas production from coal beds depends on reducing the cost
of handling produced water. These three volumes fill a need for the public to
be more informed about CBM issues, and offer useful suggestions for best practices
for CBM development, and beneficial uses of produced water.
Current Status (August 2004)
Three volumes of handbooks and Primer Economics of natural gas production from
have been published and distributed. Technology transfer of the information
continues through the workshops in the Follow-up contract, DE-AP26- 03NT30403.
A final report to DOE summarizing activities under the contract will be submitted
following the closing date for the project.
Publication of three volumes: 1) Handbook on Best Management Practices and Mitigation
Strategies for Coal Bed Methane in the Montana Portion of the Powder River Basin,
2) Handbook on Coal Bed Methane Produced Water: Management and Beneficial Use
Alternatives, 3) Coal Bed Methane Primer - New Source of Natural Gas- Environmental
Implications are available on Coalbed Natural Gas CD, June 2004, from NETL at
Project Start: September 30, 2002
Project End: May 31, 2005
Anticipated DOE Contribution: $283,831
Performer Contribution: $80,487 (22% of total)
Other Government Organizations Involved: State of Montana
NETL - John Ford (firstname.lastname@example.org or 918-699-2061)
ALL Consulting - Dan Arthur (email@example.com 918-382-7582)
Produced water pond provides recreational opportunities
Irrigated versus non-irrigated areas are contrasted.
View of a standard watering tank. Produced water flows from the central pipe to
fill the small impoundment.