The goal of phase 1 will be to perform a detailed geological assessment for part of the Illinois Basin. The results of this assessment will be used to target areas deemed to have the best potential for economically recoverable coalbed methane. Based on evaluation of existing information, three exploration coreholes will be drilled in the most promising target areas, from which coals and selected organic-rich shales will be recovered and tested for gas content. Some samples will undergo further analyses to determine absolute gas saturation (adsorption) capacity, as well as the stable isotopic characteristics of the gas. In addition, a pilot production well in southern Illinois will be drilled to determine in situ gas content, coal permeability characteristics, and gas production capabilities.
Phase 2 will entail additional geologic analysis of the remainder of the area and the drilling of four additional conventional exploration coreholes for the determination of methane content. Four wells surrounding the center pilot well (from phase 1) also will be drilled; all five wells will be stimulated and then put on pump to lower the hydrostatic pressure in the coal and produce gas and water. Dewatering of the pilot production site in southern Illinois will continue for at least 1 year.
During phase 3, analyses of core data will be completed and at least one year of pilot production site data will be acquired; in addition, the data collected in the project will be assessed and compiled in a final report.