RMAG 2000 Coalbed Methane Seminar Field Trip

Title: RMAG 2000 Coalbed Methane Seminar Field Trip: Raton Basin Coalbed Methane (CBM)

Trip Leaders: Chuck Pillmore, U.S. Geological Survey; Tom Hemborg, Colorado Geological Survey

Dates: June 21-22, 2000

Publication: The Outcrop, June 2000, p. 8-9

This field trip will be held immediately after the RMAG 2000 CBM symposium. We will tour exposures of the Upper Cretaceous Trinidad and Vermejo formations and the overlying Upper Cretaceous-Lower Tertiary Raton Formation. Emphasis will be on observation of paleoenvironmental controls on coal deposition and the geometry of individual seams. Participants will view the Spanish Peak, Lorencito, and Long Canyon fields, with discussions of drilling and completion operations by operators. A stop to view one of the better exposures of the K/T boundary in the western U.S. near Starkville, Colorado also is planned.

Desorption tests of Vermejo and Raton coals collected from four U.S. Geological Survey test holes in 1978 in the central Raton Basin west of Trinidad established that these coals had high CBM potential. Yet commercial development was stalled for nearly 25 years because of a lack of gas transportation out of the basin. Colorado Interstate Gas (CIG) in 1994, working with Amoco Production Company and Meridian Oil, ”fixed” the region’s gas marketing problem by laying approximately 35 mi of pipeline west of Trinidad. This line, which CIG refers to as the Picketwire lateral, was capable of transporting 30 MMCFD. This market access triggered CBM exploration and development in the basin that continues to the present. In 1997, CIG built a second line, the 115-mi Campo lateral, which added an additional 100 MMC FD of transportation capacity out of the basin. In December, 1999 El Paso Energy began an open season for an additional interstate pipeline to transport gas between the Raton Basin and Moore County in the Texas Panhandle. This proposed project involves the construction of 185 mi of 24-in. pipeline, with an initial capacity of 175 MMCFD.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission reports that at year-end 1999 approximately 400 wells were producing 80 MMCFD from Vermejo and Raton formation coals. Cumulative CBM production stood at 56 BCF. Evergreen Resources is the most active operator, having 252 net gas wells connected to pipeline at year­end 1999. Other active basin players include Shenandoah Energy, KLT Gas, Sonat Exploration, J.M. Huber, and Petroglyph Energy. Active development in the basin is expected to continue during 2000 driven in large part by Evergreen’s recent announcement of plans to drill 100 additional wells by year-end.