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Romeo M. Flores1, Gary D. Stricker1, Joseph F. Meyer2, Thomas E. Doll3
Pierce H. Norton, Jr.4Robert J.  Livingston,5 and M. Craig Jennings6

Digital products by Scott Kinney1, Heather Mitchell1, and Steve Dunn1

Open-File Report 01-126


This report is preliminary and has not been reviewed for conformity with the U.S. Geological Survey editorial standards or with the North American Stratigraphic Code.  Any use of trade names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

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Field Trip Road Log From Casper to Midwest, Wyoming: 41 MILES
Alternate route
Tempest in the Teapot
Salt Creek Field - Jackass Spring Oil Seep
Field Trip Log from Midwest-Edgerton to Wright-Reno Junction, Wyoming: 51 miles
Impacts and Issues of CBM Development
Field Trip Stops
Stop 1: Jacobs Ranch Coal Mine
Stop 2: Dry Fork CBM Field
Stop 3: Peabody Natural Gas Drill Site
Stop 4: The Gap Gas Gathering Complex 
Return to Casper
References Cited
List of Figures


Coalbed methane (CBM) development from the Paleocene Fort Union Formation coal beds in the Powder River Basin in Wyoming has been rapidly expanding since 1993.  During the past ten years the number of CBM producing wells rose to about 4,000 wells as of October, 2000.  About 3,500 of these wells were completed since 1998.  About 13-14 percent of these CBM wells are on Federal lands while the majority are on State and private lands.  More than 50 percent of the lands in the Powder River Basin contains mineral rights owned by the Federal government.  CBM development on Federal lands creates impacts in the basin resulting from associated drilling, facilities, gas gathering systems (e.g., pipeline networks), access roads, and withdrawal and disposal of co-produced water from CBM wells.  The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) assesses the land-use management and impacts of drilling CBM wells on lands where mineral rights are controlled by the Federal government.

In early 1999, BLM (Wyoming Reservoir Management Group) and the U.S Geological Survey (USGS, Central Energy Resources Team) initiated a cooperative project to collect technical data for analysis and evaluation of CBM resources and reservoirs in the Powder River Basin, primarily from coal cores provided by cooperating CBM operators.  BLM and USGS need the additional information and analyses of the CBM resources to accomplish their agencies’ respective resource evaluation and management missions.  The agencies share complementary, but slightly different, goals and information needs.  The project also addresses public need for data regarding Powder River Basin CBM resources.

BLM’s needs are related to management of CBM resources and primarily include obtaining improved gas content/gas-in-place estimates for reservoir characterization and resource/reserve assessment and evaluation.  The USGS has many diverse goals including a basin-wide assessment of CBM resources, developing methodologies for testing gas content of low rank coals, determining the nature and origin of coalbed gases and formation waters using coal petrology, isotopic, and chemical composition, and developing predictive models for assessment of CBM resources in other U.S. and world basins.  Although all of the results of this BLM-USGS cooperative CBM project are not yet published, the study has enhanced the understanding of the CBM resources and reservoirs in the basin.  Data provided by the USGS have been utilized internally by BLM in assessing gas-in-place resources, well spacing, reservoir characterization, drainage flow, and lost gas due to mining.  Some of the results of this cooperative project are presented in this conference and others are shown in a joint BLM-USGS website (’s.mgt/resevmgt.html).  USGS coal resource estimates and related data from the Powder River Basin study by the Fort Union Coal Assessment Team (1999) have been widely used by the BLM, gas developers, consultants, and Wyoming State Geological Survey. 

1 U. S. Geological Survey, Denver, Colorado 80025
2 U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Casper, Wyoming 82601
3 Barrett Resources Corporation, Gillette, Wyoming 82717
4 Bear Paw Energy Inc., Denver, Colorado 80202
5 Jacobs Ranch Coal Company, Gillette, Wyoming 82717
6 Peabody Natural Gas LLC, Gillette, Wyoming 82717 logo  Take Pride in America button

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U. S. Geological Survey Open File Report 01-126