Abstract

Cook Inlet Basin of south-central Alaska is a forearc basin containing voluminous Tertiary coal deposits with sufficient methane content to suggest a major coalbed gas resource. Coals ranging in thickness from 2 to 50 ft (0.6 to 15 m) and in gas content from 50 to 250 scf/ton (1.6 to 7.8 cm2/g) occur in Miocene-Oligocene fluvial deposits of the Kenai Group. These coals have been identified as the probable source of more than 8 tcf gas that has been produced from conventional sandstone reservoirs in the basin. Cook Inlet coals can be divided into two main groups: (1) those of bituminous rank in the Tyonek Formation that contain mainly thermogenic methane and are confined to the northeastern part of the basin (Matanuska Valley) and to deep levels elsewhere; and (2) subbituminous coals at shallow depths (<5000 ft [1524 m]) in the Tyonek and overlying Beluga formations, which contain mainly biogenic methane and cover most of the central and southern basin. Based on core and corrected cuttings-desorption analyses, gas contents average 230 scf/ton (7.2 cm2/g) for bituminous coals and 80 scf/ton (2.5 cm2/g) for subbituminous coals. Isotherms constructed for samples of both coal ranks suggest that bituminous coals are saturated with respect to methane, whereas subbituminous coals at shallow depths along the eroded west-central basin margin are locally unsaturated. A preliminary estimate of 140 tcf gas in place is derived for the basin.

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