, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 55-66

Wellsite, Laboratory, and Mathematical Techniques for Determining Sorbed Gas Content of Coals and Gas Shales Utilizing Well Cuttings

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Drill cuttings can be used for desorption analyses but with more uncertainty than desorption analyses done with cores. Drill cuttings are not recommended to take the place of core, but in some circumstances, desorption work with cuttings can provide a timely and economic supplement to that of cores. The mixed lithologic nature of drill cuttings is primarily the source of uncertainty in their analysis for gas content, for it is unclear how to apportion the gas generated from both the coal and the dark-colored shale that is mixed in usually with the coal. In the Western Interior Basin Coal Basin in eastern Kansas (Pennsylvanian-age coals), dark-colored shales with normal (∼100 API units) gamma-ray levels seem to give off minimal amounts of gas on the order of less than five standard cubic feet per ton (scf/ton). In some cuttings analyses this rule of thumb for gas content of the shale is adequate for inferring the gas content of coals, but shales with high-gamma-ray values (>150 API units) may yield several times this amount of gas. The uncertainty in desorption analysis of drill cuttings can be depicted graphically on a diagram identified as a “lithologic component sensitivity analysis diagram.” Comparison of cuttings desorption results from nearby wells on this diagram, can sometimes yield an unique solution for the gas content of both a dark shale and coal mixed in a cuttings sample. A mathematical solution, based on equating the dry, ash-free gas-contents of the admixed coal and dark-colored shale, also yields results that are correlative to data from nearby cores.