Since their initial discovery in the 1960’s, gas hydrates have been considered to be an important potential source of unconventional natural gas. Significant progress has been made relative to our understanding of the geologic and engineering controls on the ultimate energy potential of gas hydrate; however, more work is required to realize the promise of gas hydrates as a future energy source. Gas hydrates have been encountered, recovered or inferred to exist in numerous sedimentary basins in Arctic permafrost settings, regions of alpine permafrost, marine sediments of outer continental margins and in deep lakes. Despite the great abundance of potential gas hydrate resources in the world, a large portion of these resources reside in clay-rich sediments and fracture dominated reservoir systems, and are not generally considered producible with existing technology, but may have future potential with the emergence of new technologies. For a large portion of the world, gas hydrate in sand reservoirs have become a viable production target and the focus of the first production testing efforts.
Production tests in Arctic Canada (Mackenzie Delta) and Alaska have shown that gas can be produced from highly-concentrated gas hydrate accumulations in coarse-grained (i.e., sand rich) reservoir systems with conventional production technologies. Production can be achieved through the depressurization method and by more complex methods such as molecular substitution (e.g., CO2-CH4 exchange). In 2013, the gas hydrate production test was conducted in a marine setting in the offshore of Japan. An additional test was conducted in Japan in 2017 to further evaluate alternative well completion technologies. Also in 2018, China initiated a 60-day gas hydrate production test in the Shenhu region of the South China Sea.
This report reviews the results of gas hydrate engineering and production testing studies associated with the Mallik, Mount Elbert, and Iġnik Sikumi projects in northern Canada and Alaska. The results of the marine gas hydrate producing testing efforts in the Nankai Trough (Japan) and in the South China Sea (China) are also summarized