Drilling rig at the APPECBM field site. Image provided by CUCBM.

Drilling rig at the APPECBM field site. Image provided by CUCBM.

Enhanced coal bed methane and carbon storage project with China

A A$10 million joint project with China United Coalbed Methane Corporation Limited has demonstrated the storage of carbon dioxide underground in order to increase the extraction of methane for use as an energy source in the Shanxi Province, China.

  • 14 April 2011 | Updated 15 April 2013

A joint project with China United Coalbed Methane (CUCBM) Corporation has demonstrated geological storage of carbon dioxide to increase the production of coal bed methane in the Shanxi Province, China.

In the CSIRO-led project 460 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) was injected into a coal seam using a multi-lateral horizontal well. A focus for the project was monitoring the migration of the injected CO2 and applying new technologies to obtain data from this process.

What is ECBM?

Enhanced coal bed methane (ECBM) involves the injection of CO2 into a coal seam reservoir. The injected CO2 acts to displace the methane which is naturally present. This methane can then be recovered and used to generate energy.

CSIRO's work with CUCBM addresses the critical issues of low emission energy supply, climate change and emissions reduction on a global scale.

This process could act to store CO2 and thus contribute to reduced greenhouse gas emissions while at the same time increasing the recovery of methane from the coal seam reservoir.

There have been a number of field trials of ECBM in the US, Poland, Japan and China.

The Shanxi ECBM demonstration project

In a novel development for ECBM, a multi-lateral horizontal well was used to inject the CO2 into the coal seam reservoir. This means that the well has a large contact area with the target storage formation and is a good approach for relatively low permeability formations such as that encountered at Shanxi.

This well was used initially to produce gas before being converted for CO2 injection purposes. Additional monitoring was installed to provide detailed information during CO2 injection.

Monitoring well showing wellhead with gas sampling tubing

Monitoring well showing wellhead with gas sampling tubing

A separate monitoring well was drilled adjacent to the injection well to provide observations of gas migration in the reservoir. A novel gas sampling system was installed in this well to recover gas samples from three depth intervals; immediately above the reservoir, the reservoir itself, and the formation immediately below.

The project was undertaken through the Asia Pacific Partnership Program and was funded by the Australian Government's Department of Resources Energy and Tourism and China's National Energy Agency.

The Japan Coal Energy Centre also supported the project.

Project results

Overall 460 tonnes of CO2 was injected during the trial.

Results clearly demonstrated that the injected CO2 was progressively displacing the methane naturally present within the reservoir. The injected gas remained within the target coal reservoir and was not observed in the overlying or underlying formations, providing confidence about storage assurance.

Analysis is continuing on these observations to further develop our understanding of ECBM.

CSIRO's work with CUCBM addresses the critical issues of low emission energy supply, climate change and emissions reduction on a global scale.

The project allowed CSIRO to increase its capabilities in pilot-scale demonstrations for carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies and has informed and advanced the development of a low emissions coal technology that could be deployed in Australia.

Collaboration with China on CCS

The ECBM demonstration project builds upon CSIRO's existing collaborations with China in carbon capture and storage (CCS), which include supporting the launch of a post combustion capture (PCC) pilot plant in Beijing and the first capture of CO2 in China using PCC technology.

CSIRO has also collaborated with China on a second, transportable PCC pilot plant that is designed to capture 600 tonnes per annum of CO2.

The collection of robust data from this demonstration will inform the techno-economic assessment of PCC and direct the next steps in commercial-scale technology development.

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