Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 22, pp 21589–21604 | Cite as

A preliminary investigation on water quality of coalbed natural gas produced water for beneficial uses: a case study in the Southern Qinshui Basin, North China

  • Zheng ZhangEmail author
  • Yong Qin
Research Article


Coalbed natural gas (CBNG) is an important unconventional natural gas resource with large reserves in China and receives much attention these years. The CBNG production is accomplished by extracting large volumes of produced water from the aquifer. The CBNG-produced water is commonly managed by discharging into nearby disposal ponds in the Southern Qinshui Basin (SQB), which provides an opportunity for water source for nearby irrigation, livestock, wildlife, and human drinking water. However, utilization of this nontraditional water source in the SQB is hindered by limited knowledge of water quality, practically oxidation/reduction potential (OPR), electrical conductivity (EC), sodium adsorption ration (SAR), and trace element chemistry data. The objective of this study was to collect CBNG-produced water samples at discharge points in the SQB and investigate their water quality principally, including physicochemical parameters, major ions parameters, and trace element parameters. Discharge points were sampled from five main CBNG blocks in the SQB including SZ, ZZ, FZ, CZ, and PZ blocks from July 31, 2013 to August 11, 2014. A composite geochemical data was created with the test results from 145 produced water samples, resulting in information on 40 constituents/parameters. The resulting constituents/parameters were compared to common water use criteria of China to determine possible beneficial uses. Results suggest that the CBNG-produced waters from SQB are characterized by dominated Na-HCO3 type waters, with approximately 12% Na-SO4 and Na-Cl type waters. The observed TDS ranges from 615 to 4376 mg/L with 91% are less than 3000 mg/L, and Na+ and HCO3 are the dominating determinants of the TDS content. The EC values vary from 930 to 3844 μS/cm, ranging from class 3 to class 5 based on the suitability for irrigation. The CBNG-produced waters in SQB generally exhibit higher SAR values (avg. 41.98). Among the 25 detected trace elements in CBNG-produced waters from SQB, elements of environmental concerns include aluminum, iron, selenium, barium, manganese, nickel, and plumbum because their concentrations exceed the related Chinese regulatory standards for human drinking. The commonly constituents exceeding standards for human drinking water, livestock water, poultry water, and irrigation water include fluorinion, pH, and TDS. Besides, targeted reduction of SAR and EC also needs to be treated for most of the produced waters if used for irrigation. In contrast, the CBNG-produced waters in SQB are the most suitable for livestock water, because approximately 88% of the CBNG-produced waters are suitable for livestock drinking if the fluorinion is reduced.


CBNG-produced water Water quality Environmental concern Beneficial uses Southern Qinshui Basin 



We also thank the reviewers and the editors for their helpful comments that help greatly improve the quality of the paper.

Funding information

This work was financially supported by the National Science and Technology Key Special Project of China (No. 2016ZX05044-002 and No. 2016ZX05043) and the Shanxi Provincial Basic Research Program—Coalbed Methane Joint Research Foundation (No. 2012012001 and No. 2015012014) and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities of China (No. CUGL170811).


  1. Bai XF (2003) The distributions, modes of occurrence and volatility of trace elements in coals of China. China Coal Research Institute Doctoral Dissertation, pp 46–47Google Scholar
  2. Bern CR, Boehlke AR, Engle MA, Geboy NJ, Schroeder KT, Zupancic JW (2013) Shallow groundwater and soil chemistry response to 3 years of subsurface drip irrigation using coalbed-methane-produced water. Hydrogeol J 21(8):1803–1820. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bouška V (1981) Geochemistry of coal. Elsevier Scientific Publishing Company Press, Amsterdam, p 284Google Scholar
  4. Bouška V, Pešek J, Sykorova I (2000) Probable modes of occurrence of chemical elements in coal. Acta Montana, Ser B, Fuel, Carbon, Mineral Processing, Praha 10(117): 53–90Google Scholar
  5. Cai YD, Liu DM, Yao YB, Li JQ, Qiu YK (2011) Geological controls on prediction of coalbed methane of No. 3 coal seam in Southern Qinshui Basin, North China. Int J Coal Geol 88:101–112. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Che CB (2006) Report of a new round of national coalbed methane evaluation. Ministry of Land and Resources of the People’s Republic of China, BeijingGoogle Scholar
  7. Cheung K, Sanei H, Klassen P, Mayer B, Goodarzi F (2009) Produced fluids and shallow groundwater in coalbed methane (CBM) producing regions of Alberta, Canada: trace element and rare earth element geochemistry. Int J Coal Geol 77:338–349. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chou CL (1997) Abundances of sulfur, chlorine, and trace elements in Illinois Basin coals, USA. Proceedings of the 14th Annual International Pittsburgh Coal Conference & Workshop, Taiyuan, China, Sept. 23–27, Section 1: 76–87Google Scholar
  9. Cressey BA, Cressey G (1988) Preliminary mineralogical investigation of Leicestershire low-rank coal. Int J Coal Geol 10(2):177–191. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Dahm KG, Guerra KL, Xu P, Drewes JE (2011) Composite geochemical database for coalbed methane produced water quality in the Rocky Mountain region. Environ Sci Technol 45(18):7655–7663. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dai SF, Ren DY, Ma SM (2005a) Endemic fluorosis in western Guizhou: new discovery. Geol Rev 51(1):42–45. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dai SF, Ren DY, Tang YG, Yue M, Hao LM (2005b) Concentration and distribution of elements in Late Permian coals from western Guizhou Province, China. Int J Coal Geol 61:119–137. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dai SF, Jiang YF, Ward CR, Gu L, Seredin VV, Liu HD, Zhou D, Wang XB, Sun YZ, Zou JH, Ren DY (2012) Mineralogical and geochemical compositions of the coal in the Guanbanwusu Mine, Inner Mongolia, China: further evidence for the existence of an Al (Ga and REE) ore deposit in the Jungar Coalfield. Int J Coal Geol 98:10–40. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. DeBruin RH, Lyman RM, Jones RW, Cook LW (2000) Coal bed methane development in Wyoming. Information pamphlet number 7, Wyoming State Geological Survey, Laramie, WYGoogle Scholar
  15. Durucan S, Ahsan M, Shi JQ, Syed A, Korre A (2014) Two phase relative permeabilities for gas and water in selected European coals. Fuel 134(9):226–236. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Fang T (2015) Environmental geochemistry of lead in coal mine area. University of Science and Technology of China Doctoral Dissertation, Hefei, pp 107–110Google Scholar
  17. Finkelman RB (1981) Modes of occurrence of trace elements in coal. US Geological Survey Open-File Report, pp 81–99Google Scholar
  18. Finkelman RB (1995) Modes of occurrence of environmentally sensitive trace elements in coal. In: Swaine DJ, Goodarzi F (eds) Environmental aspects of trace elements in coal. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, pp 24–50CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Fisher JB (2003) Environmental issues and challenges in coalbed methane production. In 18th International Low Rank Fuels Symposium, June, pp 24–26Google Scholar
  20. Fisher W, Bauder JW, Clements WH, Hua I, Maest AS, Ray AW (2010) Management and effects of coalbed methane produced water in the western United States. The National Academy of Sciences, USAGoogle Scholar
  21. Flores RM (2014) Coal and coalbed gas: fueling the future. Elsevier Inc. Press, USA, pp 439–508. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Godbeer WC, Swaine DJ (1987) Fluorine in Australian coals. Fuel 66:794–798. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Gordon S, Wiebe H, Jacksteit R, Bennett S (2005) Water resources management and the energy industry in Alberta, Canada. J Can Pet Technol 44(8):22–27. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Grattan SR (2002) Irrigation water salinity and crop production. doi:
  25. Grieve DA, Goodarzi F (1993) Trace elements in coal samples from active mines in the Foreland Belt, British Columbia, Canada. Int J Coal Geol 24:259–280. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Guo C, Qin Y, Han D (2017) Interlayer interference analysis based on trace elements in water produced from coalbed methane wells: a case study of the Upper Permian coal-bearing strata, Bide–Santang Basin, western Guizhou, China. Arab J Geosci 10(6):137. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hamawand I, Yusaf T, Hamawand SG (2013) Coal seam gas and associated water: a review paper. Renew Sust Energ Rev 22(8):550–560. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hanson B, Grattan SR, Fulton A (1993) Agricultural salinity and drainage: a handbook for water managers. University of California Irrigation Program. University of California, DavisGoogle Scholar
  29. Harrison SM, Gentzis T, Labute G, Seifert S, Payne M (2006) Preliminary hydrogeological assessment of Late Cretaceous–Tertiary Ardley coals in part of the Alberta Basin, Alberta, Canada. Int J Coal Geol 65(1–2):59–78. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hower JC, Robertson JD (2003) Clausthalite in coal. Int J Coal Geol 53(4):219–225. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Huang HZ, Sang SX, Miao Y, Dong ZT, Zhang HJ (2017) Trends of ionic concentration variations in water coproduced with coalbed methane in the Tiefa Basin. Int J Coal Geol 182:32–41. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Jackson RE, Reddy KJ (2007) Trace element chemistry of coal bed natural gas produced water in the Powder River Basin, Wyoming. Environ Sci Technol 41(17):5953–5958. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Kaiser WR, Ayers WB (1994) Geologic and hydrologic characterization of coalbed-methane reservoirs in the San Juan basin. SPE Form Eval 9(3):175–184. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kaiser WR, Hamilton DS, Scott AR, Tyler RJ, Finley RJ (1994) Geological and hydrological controls on the producibility of coalbed methane. J Geol Soc Lond 151(3):417–420. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Kinnon ECP, Golding SD, Boreham CJ, Baublys KA, Esterle JS (2010) Stable isotope and water quality analysis of coal bed methane production waters and gases from the Bowen Basin, Australia. Int J Coal Geol 82:219–231. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Li Y, Tang DZ, Xu H, Elsworth D, Meng YJ (2015) Geological and hydrological controls on water coproduced with coalbed methane in Liulin, eastern Ordos basin, China. AAPG Bull 99(2):207–229. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Lin XY, Su XB (2009) The effect of coalbed methane development on ecological environment. In: International conference on environmental science and information application technology, pp 86–89. doi:
  38. Liu JZ, Yao Q, Cao XY, Cen KF (1999) Research on the measurement and regularities of distribution of fluorides in coal. Coal Geol Explor 2(1):9–12Google Scholar
  39. Lv YM, Tang DZ, Xu H, Luo HH (2012) Production characteristics and the key factors in high-rank coalbed methane fields: a case study on the Fanzhuang Block, Southern Qinshui Basin, China. Int J Coal Geol 96–97:93–108. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Martínez-Tarazona MR, Spears DA, Tascón J (1992) Organic affinity of trace elements in Asturian bituminous coals. Fuel 71(8):909–914. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Mcbeth I, Reddy KJ, Skinner QD (2003) Chemistry of trace elements in coalbed methane product water. Water Res 37(4):884–890. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Meng YJ, Tang DZ, Xu H, Li Y, Gao LJ (2014) Coalbed methane produced water in China: status and environmental issues. Environ Sci Pollut Res 21(11):6964–6974. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Moore TA (2012) Coalbed methane: a review. Int J Coal Geol 101(6):36–81. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Mullins GL, Hajek BF (1998) Effects of coalbed methane-produced water on sorghum-sudangrass growth and soil chemical properties. Commun Soil Sci Plant Anal 29(15–16):2365–2381. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Myers T (2009) Groundwater management and coal bed methane development in the Powder River Basin of Montana. J Hydrol 368:178–193. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Palmer I (2010) Coalbed methane completions: a world view. Int J Coal Geol 82(3–4):184–195. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Pashin JC (2007) Hydrodynamics of coalbed methane reservoirs in the Black Warrior Basin: key to understanding reservoir performance and environmental issues. Appl Geochem 22:2257–2272. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Patz MJ, Reddy KJ, Skinner QD (2005) Trace elements in coalbed methane produced water interacting with semi-arid ephemeral stream channels. Water Air Soil Pollut 170:55–67. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Puri R, Evanoff JC, Brugler ML (1991) Measurement of coal cleat porosity and relative permeability characteristics. SPE Gas Technology Symposium, Houston, Texas, January 22-24, pp 93–104. doi:
  50. Qin Y, Fu XH, Wei CT, Hou QL, Jiang B, Wu CF (2012) Dynamic conditions of CBM accumulation and its controlling effect on CBM reservoir. Science Press, BeijingGoogle Scholar
  51. Qin Y, Moore TA, Shen J, Yang ZB, Shen YL, Wang G (2018) Resources and geology of coalbed methane in China: a review. Int Geol Rev 60(5–6):777–812. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Reddy KJ, Whitman AJ, Kniss AR (2014) Potential beneficial uses of coalbed natural gas (CBNG) water. Environ Sci-Proc Imp 16(1):148–158. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Ren DY, Zhao FH, Dai SF, Zhang JY, Luo KL (2006) Trace elements geochemistry of coal. Science Press, BeijingGoogle Scholar
  54. Rice CA, Ellis MS, Bullock JH Jr (2000) Water co-produced with coalbed methane in the Powder River basin, Wyoming: preliminary compositional data. US Geological Survey Open-File Report 00-372, pp 1–17Google Scholar
  55. Scott AR (2002) Hydrogeologic factors affecting gas content distribution in coal beds. Int J Coal Geol 50(1–4):363–387. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Shen J, Qin Y, Wang GX, Fu XH, Wei CT, Lei B (2011) Relative permeabilities of gas and water for different rank coals. Int J Coal Geol 86:266–275. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Stearns M, Tindall JA, Cronin G, Friedel MJ, Bergquist E (2005) Effects of coal-bed methane discharge waters on the vegetation and soil ecosystem in Powder River Basin, Wyoming. Water Air Soil Pollut 168(1–4):33–57. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Van Voast WA (2003) Geochemical signature of formation waters associated with coalbed methane. AAPG Bull 87(4):667–676. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Wang YQ (1994) Study on distribution of trace elements in coal and its combustion products. China University of Mining and Technology Doctoral Dissertation, BeijingGoogle Scholar
  60. Wang YQ, Zhang RG, Wang LP, Ren DY, Zhao FH (1997) Extract experiments of minor and trace element occurrence in coal. Coal Geol China 9(3):23–25Google Scholar
  61. White RN, Smith JV, Speras DA, Rivers ML, Sutton SR (1989) Analysis of iron sulfides from UK coal by synchrotron radiation X-ray fluorescence. Fuel 68(11):1480–1485. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Xue FH (2004) Study on the problems of water resources in Shanxi Province. Water Resour Prot 1:53–56Google Scholar
  63. Yao YB, Liu DM, Yan TT (2014) Geological and hydrogeological controls on the accumulation of coalbed methane in the Weibei field, southeastern Ordos Basin. Int J Coal Geol 121:148–159. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Ye JP, Lu XX (2016) Development status and technical progress of China coalbed me-thane industry. Coal Sci Technol 44(1):24–28. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Zhang JY (1999) Study on the enrichment regularity and pollution inhibition of potential toxic trace elements in coal. China University of Mining and Technology Doctoral Dissertation, BeijingGoogle Scholar
  66. Zhang SH, Tang SH, Li ZC, Guo QL, Pan ZJ (2015a) Stable isotope characteristics of CBM co-produced water and implications for CBM development: the example of the Shizhuangnan Block in the Southern Qinshui Basin, China. J Nat Gas Sci Eng 27:1400–1411. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Zhang Z, Qin Y, Fu XH, Yang ZB, Guo C (2015b) Multi-layer superposed coalbed methane system in Southern Qinshui Basin, Shanxi Province, China. J Earth Sci-China 26(3):391–398. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Zhang SH, Tang SH, Li ZC, Pan ZJ, Shi W (2016) Study of hydrochemical characteristics of CBM co-produced water of the Shizhuangnan Block in the Southern Qinshui Basin, China, on its implication of CBM development. Int J Coal Geol 159:169–182. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Zhao L, Ward CR, French D, Graham IT, Dai SF, Yang C, Xie PP, Zhang SY (2018) Origin of a kaolinite-NH4-illite-pyrophyllite-chlorite assemblage in a marine-influenced anthracite and associated strata from the Jincheng Coalfield, Qinshui Basin, Northern China. Int J Coal Geol 185:61–78. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Клер ВР, Волкова ГА, Гурвич ЕМ идр (1987) Металлогения и Геохимия Угленосных и Сланцесодержащих Толщ СССР. Геохимия Элементов. Москва: Наука, 1–239Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Tectonics and Petroleum Resources, Ministry of EducationChina University of GeosciencesWuhanChina
  2. 2.Faculty of Earth ResourcesChina University of GeosciencesWuhanChina
  3. 3.School of Resources and GeosciencesChina University of Mining & TechnologyXuzhouChina

Personalised recommendations