Gas hydrate is a solid, naturally occurring substance consisting predominantly of methane gas and water. Recent scientific drilling programs in Japan, Canada, the United States, Korea and India have demonstrated that gas hydrate occurs broadly and in a variety of forms in shallow sediments of the outer continental shelves and in Arctic regions. Field, laboratory and numerical modelling studies conducted to date indicate that gas can be extracted from gas hydrates with existing production technologies, particularly for those deposits in which the gas hydrate exists as pore-filling grains at high saturation in sand-rich reservoirs. A series of regional resource assessments indicate that substantial volumes of gas hydrate likely exist in sand-rich deposits. Recent field programs in Japan, Canada and in the United States have demonstrated the technical viability of methane extraction from gas-hydrate-bearing sand reservoirs and have investigated a range of potential production scenarios. At present, basic reservoir depressurisation shows the greatest promise and can be conducted using primarily standard industry equipment and procedures. Depressurisation is expected to be the foundation of future production systems; additional processes, such as thermal stimulation, mechanical stimulation and chemical injection, will likely also be integrated as dictated by local geological and other conditions. An innovative carbon dioxide and methane swapping technology is also being studied as a method to produce gas from select gas hydrate deposits. In addition, substantial additional volumes of gas hydrate have been found in dense arrays of grain-displacing veins and nodules in fine-grained, clay-dominated sediments; however, to date, no field tests, and very limited numerical modelling, have been conducted with regard to the production potential of such accumulations. Work remains to further refine: (1) the marine resource volumes within potential accumulations that can be produced through exploratory drilling programs; (2) the tools for gas hydrate detection and characterisation from remote sensing data; (3) the details of gas hydrate reservoir production behaviour through additional, well-monitored and longer duration field tests and (4) the understanding of the potential environmental impacts of gas hydrate resource development. The results of future production tests, in the context of varying market and energy supply conditions around the globe, will be the key to determine the ultimate timing and scale of the commercial production of natural gas from gas hydrates.
Additional Publication Details
Methane Hydrates: Chapter 8
Central Energy Resources Science Center
Chapter 8 in Future of Energy - Improved, Sustainable and Clean Options for our Planet, Second Edition