The Coalbed Methane and Underground Coal Gasification Potential of South Austranial Coals
Engineering Honours Degree, 2006
University of Adelaide
The existence of coal has long been recognised within the state of South Australia. However, the general depth and poor quality of the coal deposits has prevented economic exploitation of them, and little work has been done on the area for approximately 20 years.
The technology involved in Coal Bed Methane (CBM) and Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) has been evolving during this time, and based on previous work, optimal conditions based on numerous criteria can be developed for each application. Such characteristics requiring consideration include depth, thickness, continuity, maturity, vertical distance to aquifers, distance to other works, maceral contents, indications based on water geochemistry, and permeability of the coal seams.
The data was collected from searches of the open file envelopes located at PIRSA (typically old coal exploration work or petroleum well completion documentation), and other relevant published information. In this way, an overview of the various basins (Pedirka, Arckaringa, Polda and southern Cooper Basins) was built up and the characteristics considered in terms of CBM and UCG potential.
While the study did highlight the need for further work in the areas, the potential of some basins were able to be upgraded. The standout basin for further work and possible application of the techniques was the Arckaringa Basin, and the numerous delineated coal deposits within it. All the other basins exhibit a lack of clear coal delineation, and further work would be required before the ranking of the Pedirka, Cooper and Polda Basins could be considered truly representative. In particular, the continuity and thickness of individual seams needs to be understood for each area. Excessive depths create an issue in both the Pedirka and Cooper Basins, although they should not be ruled out for future work as technology decreases the depth limitations currently imposed on CBM and UCG applications.