History of Natural Resource Exploration in Northern Appalachian Basin


Between 1900 and 1925, it is estimated 1,000 to 5,000 oil wells were drilled in Harrison County, Ohio, in what is called the Northern Appalachian Basin. Not much oil was found to feed the growing industrial demand. Instead, most of the holes found natural gas and were abandoned. Many of these wells were never mapped and when abandoned, they were filled with whatever was available to cap them, mostly tree limbs. To this day, these abandoned wells remain in place, some with mapped locations, still others lost in time, all of which provide a conduit to emit methane gas into the atmosphere from a time where little oversight and environmental concern existed.

CMM

Tappan Lake

photo by John M Baker

The Northern Appalachian Basin in Harrison County, Ohio, in subsequent years, once again became a focal point for natural resources to supply the great industrial revolution. This time, coal generated the rush, rich in content. The area became known for underground mines, surface mines and immense shovels. As the mines were planned and surveyed, excavations found the un-plotted abandoned oil wells; and in cases of good documentation, abandoned oil wells were mined around or plugged. When surface mining, the abandoned wells were simply mined over and back filled. The Cadiz Portal mine, roughly 4,500 acres, discovered sixteen to seventeen such abandoned wells and plugged them with a balloon like device or simply let them vent where feasible. When plugged, it was of a temporary nature only. Ultimately, whether surface or underground mined the old wells still provide a conduit for methane emissions, once again to vent to atmosphere.

The nature of coal in the Northern Appalachian Basin is that it is rich in content. Coal provides a natural, unceasing supply of methane gas in the Appalachian Basin. Coal naturally adsorbs methane gas, especially when given the opportunity, whether in the back filled waste of surface mining or the waste caverns of underground mining. The opportunity presents itself greatly in abandoned mines where the abundant coal pillars left in place to support the infrastructure adsorbs methane to fill the waste void. When a mine is abandoned, its void or waste area naturally becomes filled with methane gas. The methane gas will seek the surface through fractures, cracks or man made conduits such as old oil or gas wells. The U.S. EPA estimates abandoned coal mines give off 13 billion cubic feet of methane every year. They also suggest that abandoned mines emit methane rapidly upon abandonment and then decline to a rate of about 10% of their initial rate for the next 100 years. The science suggests methane is an inexhaustible by-product of coal. It should be noted the EPA study does not account for calamities such as thousands of man made wells and conduits.

Our Process

Under the guidance of federal, state and local agencies, the process of mining coal has become safer and environmentally friendlier relative to methane emissions. The negative consequences of methane emissions are now understood. Great focus has been placed upon ventilation to assure a stable underground environment for workers. These ventilation systems are now being targeted for methane removal to end the long standing process of simply venting to atmosphere. Expansive underground lateral wells are being drilled in an effort to evacuate the methane gas ahead of the mining process to further mitigate subsequent emissions. The last great frontier for methane emission mitigation is found in the treatment of abandoned mines.

Company History

and the role we play in the recovery of coal mine methane in Harrison County

CBM Ohio is one of very few entities addressing the last frontier. CBM Ohio seeks to evacuate the methane gas from abandoned mines as a renewable resource. In our process, we restore the methane gas to a usable commodity and allow the coal pillars the opportunity to continually regenerate and replenish the void with methane gas. CBM OHIO anticipates gently evacuating methane gas from these caverns for the unforeseeable future. It is in our best interest to find and seal any fracture or conduit whether man made or natural to enhance the quality of our methane. It has been our endeavor to partner with the coal mining community to seal mines and lay the ground work for methane production prior to the actual mine closing. We believe our efforts to capture this waste product and renew it for market subsequently provides a safer and cleaner environment, an environment whose natural emissions of methane leaching up through thousands of old wells and natural fractures in the earth has been greatly mitigated by our efforts.