DOE/NETL Methane Hydrate Projects
Numerical Studies for the Characterization of Recoverable Resources from Methane Hydrate Deposits Last Reviewed 12/11/2013


Project Goal
The overall objective of this project is to conduct numerically-based studies to characterize and analyze recoverable resources from gas hydrate deposits, evaluate appropriate production strategies for both permafrost and marine environments, and analyze the geomechanical behavior of hydrate-bearing sediments, as well as provide support for DOE’s hydrate-related activities and collaborative projects.

Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (LBNL), Berkeley, CA 94720: model modifications and runs; project management

TOUGH+/HYDRATE (pT+H) is a code developed by LBNL that simulates the behavior of hydrate-bearing geologic systems. By solving coupled equations of mass and heat balance, pT+H can model the non-isothermal gas release, phase behavior, and flow of fluids and heat under conditions typical of common natural methane (CH4) hydrate-bearing deposits in complex formations. TOUGH+/HYDRATE includes both an equilibrium and kinetic model of hydrate formation and dissociation. The model accounts for heat and up to four mass components, i.e., water, CH4, hydrate, and water-soluble inhibitors such as salts or alcohols portioned among four possible phases (gas phase, liquid phase, ice phase, and hydrate phase) and up to five components (heat, hydrate, water, CH4, and water-soluble inhibitors). Hydrate dissociation or formation, phase changes, and the corresponding thermal effects are fully described, as are the effects of inhibitors. The model can describe all possible hydrate dissociation mechanisms, i.e., depressurization, thermal stimulation, salting-out effects, and inhibitor-induced effects. Under this project, LBNL is developing and maintaining pT+H as well as actively using the program to predict the behavior of hydrates and hydrate-bearing geologic systems in the laboratory or field, and from pore to regional scale.

Potential Impact
These numerical modeling efforts will allow hydrate scientists to better assess, identify, and predict the behavior of hydrate-bearing sediments under natural- and hydrate-production conditions for various hydrate occurrences in both Arctic and deepwater marine environments. The efforts will contribute to the planning and assessment of hydrate program field tests, and continue to define the feasibility of hydrates as an energy resource.


  • Developed a working prototype of a Unicode version of the TOUGH+ HYDRATE code (uT+H)
  • Publicly released new versions of both the serial and the parallel TOUGH+HYDRATE codes (with improved thermodynamics and thermophysical properties, and new control and output capabilities)
  • Completed two collaborative studies (with KIGAM, Korea) on the production potential, and corresponding geomechanical system behavior, of Korean marine hydrates in the Ulleung Basin (two related papers published or in review)
  • Developed and tested a two-way, fully-coupled flow-thermal-geomechanical simulator (involving TOUGH+HYDRATE and ROCMECH)
  • Published two papers on coupled flow-thermal-geomechanical processes in producing hydrate systems
  • Completed the largest numerical study ever conducted on the evaluation of the behavior of marine hydrate deposits (a conference paper on the subject has been completed and a scientific journal paper is in review)
  • Completed studies on gas recoverability from the PBU-L106 site in Alaska (paper is in review)
  • Published a chapter in Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts on the status of gas production from hydrates.

For accomplishments from past, related efforts, please see the project page for FWP G308.

TOUGH+/Hydrate is available to commercial and non-commercial users from LBNL [external site]. Non-commercial licenses are available to academic and research institutions at reduced cost and free of charge for users working on U.S. government-sponsored research projects. Details on licensing and associated licensing costs can be found on the TOUGH+ licensing site [external].

Current Status (December 2013)
Budget Period 2 activities are ongoing. The current focus includes testing and verification of the new parallel solver package incorporated into the Unicode version of Tough + Hydrate; wrap up and publication of PBU L106 production testing / geomechanical simulations using both vertical and horizontal wells; continued simulation-based evaluation of the effectiveness of slanted wells in the production of gas from highly stratified hydrate deposits; simulation of planned production testing at sites in the Ulleung Basin, and history matching of the depressurization phase of the ConocoPhillips gas hydrate production test conducted in 2012 on the Alaska North Slope.

Project Start: April 1, 2012
Project End: June 30, 2014

Project Cost Information:
DOE Contribution: $200,000; Recipient Contribution: $0

Contact Information:
NETL – Richard Baker (
LBNL – George Moridis (
If you are unable to reach the above personnel, please contact the content manager.

Additional Information

2012 Annual Porgress Report [PDF-387KB] April - December, 2012

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