Mineralogical characterization of coal samples relevant to coal bed methane porosity and permeability concerns
C. Cuff, M. Corkeron, C. E. Rasmussen, A. Bush, K. Camuti, 2017. "Mineralogical characterization of coal samples relevant to coal bed methane porosity and permeability concerns", Geomechanical and Petrophysical Properties of Mudrocks, E. H. Rutter, J. Mecklenburgh, K. Taylor
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Lower than anticipated gas production rates in coal bed methane (CBM) operations are sometimes related to formation damage in which reduced permeability results from the interaction of bore and fracturing fluids with coal. This study assesses the potential for mineral precipitation to cause formation damage from a Permian coal seam in the Bowen Basin, eastern Australia, using geochemical modelling of coal mineralogy, formation fluid and bore fluid composition. The mineralogical composition of coal was assessed using petrography, X-ray diffraction, X-ray fluoresence and electron beam microanalysis. Geochemical modelling of ambient groundwater and drilling fluid interactions with coal samples was undertaken using Geochemist’s WorkBench (GWB). This modelling indicates that likely mineral precipitates/re-precipitates to adversely impact porosity and permeability include a range of clay, carbonate and sulphate minerals. Additionally, these interactions may induce alteration of precursor smectites to new species that reduce permeability. The resultant smectites also have a high propensity for expansion and dispersion in the presence of inappropriate drilling fluids.
Precipitation, expansion and dispersion of these fine-grained minerals may potentially lead to large reductions in permeability, with profound impacts upon gas flow. Indications are that reduced permeability can be mitigated by suitable chemical matching of groundwaters with drilling fluids.
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A surge of interest in the geomechanical and petrophysical properties of mudrocks (shales) has taken place in recent years following the development of a shale gas industry in the United States and elsewhere, and with the prospect of similar developments in the UK. Also, these rocks are of particular importance in excavation and construction geotechnics and other rock engineering applications, such as underground natural gas storage, carbon dioxide disposal and radioactive waste storage. They may greatly influence the stability of natural and engineered slopes. Mudrocks, which make up almost three-quarters of all the sedimentary rocks on Earth, therefore impact on many areas of applied geoscience.
This volume focuses on the mechanical behaviour and various physical properties of mudrocks. The 15 chapters are grouped into three themes: (i) physical properties such as porosity, permeability, fluid flow through cracks, strength and geotechnical behaviour; (ii) mineralogy and microstructure, which control geomechanical behaviour; and (iii) fracture, both in laboratory studies and in the field.