Date of Award
Master of Science
The variation in the cleat permeability of coalbed methane (CBM) reservoirs is attributed primarily to two cardinal processes, with opposing effects. Increase in effective stresses with reduction in pore pressure tends to decrease the cleat permeability, whereas the sorption-induced coal matrix shrinkage actuates reduction in the effective stresses which increases the reservoir permeability. The net effect of the two processes determines the pressure-dependent-permeability and, hence, the overall trend of CBM production with depletion. Several analytical models have been developed and used to predict the dynamic behavior of CBM reservoir permeability during production through pressure depletion, all based on combining the two effects. The purpose of this study was to introduce modifications to two most commonly used permeability models, namely the Palmer and Mansoori, and Shi and Durucan, for permeability variation and evaluate their performance when projecting gas production. The basis for the modification is the linear relationship between the volume of sorbed gas and the associated matrix shrinkage. Hence, the impact of matrix shrinkage is incorporated as a function of the amount of gas produced, or that remaining in coal, at any time during production. Since the exact production from a reservoir is known throughout its life, this significantly simplifies the process of permeability modeling. Furthermore, the modification is also expected to streamline the process of modeling by classifying the shrinkage parameters for coals of different regions, but with similar characteristics. A good analogy is the San Juan basin, where sorption characteristics of coal are so well understood and defined that operators no longer carry out laboratory sorption work. The goal is to achieve the same for incorporation of the matrix shrinkage behavior. Another modification is to incorporate the matrix, or grain, compressibility effect of coal as a correction factor in the Shi and Durucan model so as to assess the permeability variation based on the true shrinkage of coal matrix with reservoir drawdown. Finally, application of the modified models may be carried out for scenarios where the gas content of coal varies with time, either due to injection of a second gas to enhance the recovery of methane, or gas enhancing techniques, such as, bio-stimulation of coal. The original models are currently unable to handle this, particularly when the gas content of the reservoir increases. The research is aimed at simplifying and, in fact, improving the performance of the theoretical models in predicting the variation of coal reservoir permeability.
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