Differentiating between biogenic and thermogenic sources of natural gas in coalbed methane reservoirs from the Illinois Basin using noble gas and hydrocarbon geochemistry
Myles T. Moore, David S. Vinson, Colin J. Whyte, William K. Eymold, Talor B. Walsh, Thomas H. Darrah, 2018. "Differentiating between biogenic and thermogenic sources of natural gas in coalbed methane reservoirs from the Illinois Basin using noble gas and hydrocarbon geochemistry", From Source to Seep: Geochemical Applications in Hydrocarbon Systems, M. Lawson, M.J. Formolo, J.M. Eiler
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While coalbed methane (CBM) is a significant source of natural gas production globally, uncertainties regarding the proportions of biogenic and thermogenic natural gas in CBM reservoirs still remain. We integrate major gases, hydrocarbon composition, hydrocarbon stable isotopes and noble gases in fluids from 20 producing CBM wells to more accurately constrain the genetic source of natural gases in the eastern Illinois Basin, USA. Previous studies have indicated primarily biogenic production of methane (>99.6%) with negligible contributions from thermogenic natural gases. However, by integrating noble gases, we identify quantifiable (up to 19.2%) contributions of exogenous thermogenic gas in produced gases from the Seelyville and Springfield coal seams. Thermogenic gases are distinguished by a positive relationship between methane, ethane and helium-4, lower C1/C2+, heavier δ13C-CH4, more radiogenic noble gases (4He, 21Ne*, 40Ar*), and lower abundances of atmospherically derived gases (20Ne, 36Ar). Biogenic gases displayed lighter δ13C-CH4, higher C1/C2+, higher levels of atmospheric gases and lower abundances of radiogenic noble gases. Our data suggest that natural gases from a deeper, exogenous thermogenic source likely migrated to the Pennsylvanian-aged coals at an unknown time and later mixed with biogenic methane diluting the geochemical signature of the thermogenic methane within the Springfield and Seelyville coal seams.
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Hydrocarbon systems, by nature, are a complex interplay of elements that must be spatially and temporally aligned to result in the generation and preservation of subsurface hydrocarbon accumulations. To meet the increasing challenges of discovering hydrocarbon resources, it is essential that we advance our understanding of these systems through new geochemical approaches and analytical developments. Such development requires that academic- and industry-led research efforts converge in ways that are unique to the geosciences.
The aim of this volume is to bring together a multidisciplinary geochemical community from industry and academia working in hydrocarbon systems to publish recent advances and state-of-the-art approaches to resolve the many remaining questions in hydrocarbon systems analysis. From Source to Seep presents geochemical and isotopic studies that are grouped into three themes: (1) source-rock identification and the temperature/timing of hydrocarbon generation; (2) mechanisms and time-scales associated with hydrocarbon migration, trapping, storage and alteration; and (3) the impact of fluid flow on reservoir properties.