SWLGS Luncheon Topics
Oct. 29, 2005
A Brief Discussion of CoalBed Methane (CBM) in Louisiana
F. Clayton Breland, Jr.
Coalbed methane (CBM), for years considered a hazard in the coal mining business, became
an unconventional energy resource in the early 1970’s as mine operators sought ways to remove
and vent the hazard to mining operations. Today, CBM has become a hot topic of conversation
among many oil and gas professionals. CBM makes up 8% of domestic natural gas production and
rate of production is increasing annually as CBM becomes an important component of the overall
energy source mix (Energy Information Administration, 2001). CBM production has been established
in a number of basins regionally in the U.S. from Paleozoic coals in the east and from younger,
thicker coals in the west. However, very limited drilling activity has been conducted in the Gulf
Coast Tertiary Basin to specifically define the CBM resource. The age, thickness, and quality of
the Gulf Coast coals have generally been considered a negative contributing factor in the
development of the resource. With the success of CBM in the Tertiary aged coals of the Powder
River basin, independent producers have begun to take a closer look at the CBM potential of the
Gulf Coast and in particular in Louisiana.
Clayton Breland grew up on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, where upon high school
graduation entered Millsaps College in Jackson, MS and was granted a B.S. in geology in 1970.
He received an M.S. in geology from the University of Mississippi, Oxford in 1972. He completed
work on his Ph.D. in geology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 1980, supported, in part,
by a grant from the National Science Foundation and a fellowship from the Gulf Oil Foundation.
Breland also holds a B.B.A. in Managerial Finance from University of Mississippi, Oxford awarded
to him in 1991. He began a career in the “oil patch”, first with Gulf Oil in Oklahoma City, OK,
and later with Unocal in Houston, TX and Pennington Oil in Baton Rouge, LA. Breland is presently
with the Basin Research Energy Section of the Louisiana Geological Survey at Louisiana State
University, where he is involved, among other things, in research in coalbed methane in Louisiana
and the Gulf Coast.