Washington, D.C. — Gas hydrate, a potentially immense energy resource, occurs at high saturations within reservoir-quality sands in the Gulf of Mexico, according to reports released by the Office of Fossil Energy’s (FE) National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL).
Initial findings from the May 2009 expedition of the Gulf of Mexico Hydrates Joint Industry Project (JIP) have just been released by NETL. These reports detail the extremely valuable and advanced datasets on the various gas hydrate occurrences that were discovered in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico. In addition, the reports provide significant new information on the optimal drilling and well control protocols for deep gas hydrate research projects.
Gas hydrate is a unique solid substance comprised of natural gas (almost exclusively methane) in combination with water. It is thought to exist in great abundance in nature and has the potential to be a significant new energy source to meet future energy needs. However, prior to this expedition, there was little documentation that gas hydrate occurred in resource-quality accumulations in U.S. waters.
Perhaps most importantly, the expedition and the resulting scientific data validate the integrated geological and geophysical methodology used in the site selection process, and provide increased confidence in the assessment of gas hydrate volumes in the Gulf of Mexico. It is expected that further evaluation of the complex geology of these hydrate deposits, including both conventional and pressure coring, will add significantly to the understanding of the nature and occurrence of gas hydrate-bearing sands in the marine environment. Another expedition to collect core samples from the sites explored in 2009, and to drill, log, and core a new site, is planned for the spring of 2011.
The JIP is a collaborative effort between NETL’s Strategic Center for Natural Gas and Oil, and an industry consortium lead by Chevron. The Office of Fossil Energy’s Oil and Natural Gas Program funded the expedition. The U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Minerals Management Service scientists collaborated with the effort.
Recently released reports cover the initial scientific results from three Gulf of Mexico sites which were explored during the JIP Leg II expedition: Walker Ridge Block 313, Green Canyon Block 955, and Alaminos Canyon Block 21.
The initial set of reports includes—
- Technical Summary—Planning, operations, and results, including a high-level overview of the objectives of the expedition, the site selection process, and summaries of the setting and drilling results for each of the three expedition sites.
- Operational Summary—Daily logs of expedition activities, problems encountered, and lessons learned.
- Logging-While-Drilling Methods—Overview of logging-while-drilling (LWD) data collection and analysis methods used during the expedition.
- Site Summaries—Detailed descriptions of each of the sites visited and initial comparisons of the pre- and post-drill evaluation at each location.
- Logging-While-Drilling Operations and Results—Detailed LWD results for each site.
- Pre-drill Site Evaluation and Selection Reports—Site selection methodology and criteria, including geologic interpretations and prioritized drilling targets, selection of gas hydrate saturation intervals, drilling hazard assessments, and borehole stability and operational recommendations for each site.