Coal seam gas associations in the Huntly, Ohai and Greymouth regions, New Zealand (2006)
AuthorsButland, Carolineshow all
Coal seam gas has been recognised as a new, potential energy resource in New Zealand. Exploration and assessment programmes carried out by various companies have evaluated the resource and indicated that this unconventional gas may form a part of New Zealand's future energy supply. This study has delineated some of the controls between coal properties and gas content in coal seams in selected New Zealand locations. Four coal cores, one from Huntly (Eocene), two from Ohai (Cretaceous) and one from Greymouth (Cretaceous), have been sampled and analysed in terms of gas content and coal properties. Methods used include proximate, sulphur and calorifc value analyses; ash constituent determination; rank assessment; macroscopic analysis; mineralogical analysis; maceral analysis; and gas analyses (desorption, adsorption, gas quality and gas isotopes). Coal cores varied in rank from sub-bituminous B-A (Huntly); sub-bituminous C-A (Ohai); and high volatile bituminous A (Greymouth). All locations contained high vitrinite content (~85 %) with overall relatively low mineral matter observed in most samples. Mineral matter consisted of both detrital grains (quartz in matrix material) and infilling pores and fractures (clays in fusinite pores; carbonates in fractures). Average gas contents were 1.6 m3/t in the Huntly core, 4.7 m3/t in the Ohai cores, and 2.35 m3/t in the Greymouth core. The Ohai core contained more gas and was more saturated than the other cores. Carbon isotopes indicated that the Ohai gas composition was more mature, containing heavier 13C isotopes than either the Huntly or Greymouth gas samples. This indicates the gas was derived from a mixed biogenic and thermogenic source. The Huntly and Greymouth gases appear to be derived from a biogenic (by CO2 reduction) source. The ash yield proved to be the dominant control on gas volume in all locations when the ash yield was above 10 %. Below 10 % the amount of gas variation is unrelated to ash yield. Although organic content had some influence on gas volume, associations were basin and /or rank dependant. In the Huntly core total gas content and structured vitrinite increased together. Although this relationship did not appear in the other cores, in the Ohai SC3 core lost gas and fusinite are associated with each other, while desmocollinite (unstructured vitrinite) correlated positively with residual gas in the Greymouth core. Although it is generally accepted that higher rank coals will have higher adsorption capacities, this was not seen in this data set. Although the lowest rank coal (Huntly) contains the lowest adsorption capacity, the highest adsorption capacity was not seen in the highest rank coal (Greymouth), but in the Ohai coal instead. The Ohai core acted like a higher rank coal with respect to the Greymouth coal, in terms of adsorption capacity, isotopic signatures and gas volume. Two hypothesis can be used to explain these results: (1) That a thermogenically derived gas migrated from down-dip of the SC3 and SC1 drill holes and saturated the section. (2) Rank measurements (e.g. proximate analyses) have a fairly wide variance in both the Greymouth and Ohai coal cores, thus it maybe feasible that the Ohai cores may be higher rank coal than the Greymouth coal core. Although the second hypothesis may explain the adsorption capacity, isotopic signatures and the gas volume, when the data is plotted on a Suggate rank curve, the Ohai coal core is clearly lower rank than the Greymouth core. Thus, pending additional data, the first hypothesis is favoured.