Pressure and flow control wells gather coal-only information for the AER to assess coalbed methane (CBM) resources and reserves. Flowmeter values and changes in reservoir pressure are examined for each CBM zone. This analysis is expected to improve the estimates of CBM recovery factors.
Before pressure and flow control wells were established, testing was required for every CBM-producing well. A single pressure and flow control well is validated and tested to meet the requirements for all CBM production within a specified area.
CBM developers are encouraged to work together in selecting control wells in a CBM development area to make the control well designation process as effective and efficient as possible for all parties.
The following outlines the process to follow to get approval for CBM pressure and flow control wells. It includes links to application submission procedures and guidance documents.
Application Submission for CBM Pressure and Flow Control Wells
Applicants submit their CBM pressure and flow control well applications through the Digital Data Submission (DDS) system. Applications are registered using the Integrated Application Registry (IAR), and all material related to an application is stored within this system.
With submission of the control well form for designating a control well, the licensee acknowledges that the control well and all information relating to that well is no longer confidential as of the designation.
Review Process for CBM Pressure and Flow Control Wells
After the application is submitted through DDS and received by the AER, the application process will be as follows:
- All applications will be published on the Public Notice of Application (PNoA) page on the AER website to encourage public participation in the approval process.
- Statements of concern (SOCs) can be filed by parties that may be directly and adversely affected by the CBM pressure and flow control well for which approval is sought. These are evaluated for relevance to the application. If relevant, an SOC may necessitate a public hearing to address the stated concerns prior to the disposition of the application. The relevance of the SOC is decided by the AER director of subsurface.
- The application will be assigned to a processor and reviewed for administrative completeness—the processor will either recommend that an information-deficient application be closed, or proceed with a full technical review of the administratively complete application.
- The processor will check internally to determine whether the land referred to in the application is within the Lower Athabasca Regional Plan or South Saskatchewan Regional Plan areas—if the application is within one of these areas, the application will go for leadership approval.
- Staff will review the geologic aspects of the proposed pressure and flow control well application—the review will focus on the quality of data being collected and will include the following:
- Individual coal seams are to be identified using well logs, preferably density/neutron and induction logs.
- The coal seams are then grouped into larger CBM zones (confirming or identifying CBM zones within the application well).
- All lithologies perforated/completed are identified within the wellbore, confirming that any sand completions are isolated from the CBM zones being tested; or if one or more perforations penetrate a lithology other than sand, coal, or carbonaceous shale (i.e., limestone or anhydrite), the thickness of those perforations must be equal to or less than 15 per cent of the thickness of all perforations in the wellbore.
- The applicant may receive a request, called a supplemental information request, for additional information, if needed.
- A draft disposition letter will be prepared for technically complete applications (once the review is deemed complete and uncontested)—the processor will recommend that the application be approved, denied, or closed, and the Geology signing authority will then review the technical recommendation and make a decision on the application.
- Upon disposition, the applicant will receive a link to the disposition letter. The letter can be accessed for 30 days through the IAR query tool—for access, go to www.aer.ca, under Systems & Tools.
- Some appealable decisions on the application can be appealed by eligible persons based on the Responsible Energy Development Act—the procedures for regulatory appeals are set out in sections 30 through 33 of the Alberta Energy Regulator Rules of Practice.
- The list of valid control wells is published to the AER website—to access, go to www.aer.ca under Rules & Directives, Control Well Requirements.