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Advanced Simulation and Experiments of Strongly Couple Geomechanics and Flow for Gas Hydrate Deposits: Validation and Field Application
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The objective of the proposed research is to investigate geomechanical responses induced by depressurization on gas hydrate bearing reservoirs, both in marine and permafrost-associated settings, through integrated experimental and numerical simulation studies. Numerical evaluation of two well-characterized sites will be performed: one based on the deposits observed at the Ulleung Basin (Korean East Sea) UBGH2-6 site; and the other based in the West End Prudhoe Bay (Alaska North Slope).


Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 
The Korean Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources (KIGAM), Daejeon, South Korea.
The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA (through associated Field Work Proposal FWP-00003997)


While all gas hydrate numerical simulation remains in an early stage due to limited available field data for validation and calibration, the ability to numerically simulate the thermodynamic and hydraulic response of gas hydrate reservoirs to depressurization-based production is relatively well-advanced. However, the unconsolidated nature and potential high-pressure drawdowns required indicate that any effort to predict reservoir performance must incorporate geomechanical phenomena as well.

This project will feature a collaboration with KIGAM. KIGAM has constructed world-class, multi-scale reactors and has performed extensive experimental studies on the geomechanical phenomena in gas hydrate bearing sediments. These prior findings will be further evaluated at KIGAM and tested by new experimental studies at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and Texas A&M (TAMU) that are designed capture complex coupled physical processes between flow and geomechanics, such as sand production, capillarity, and formation of secondary hydrates.

The project will develop an advanced coupled geomechanics and non-isothermal flow simulator to better account for potential large deformations and strong capillarity. This new code will be validated using data from the literature, from previous work by the project team, and with the results of newly conducted experimental studies. 


The simulation and experimental work related to specific sites will yield new and valuable insight into those locations and the expected behavior of the gas hydrate system at the locations in response to dissociation-based production of gas from hydrate. The developed simulator will be available for future planning of gas hydrate production tests and will be valuable in the determination of well designs and test procedures, and test result evaluation.  

Accomplishments (most recent listed first)
  • Completed experimental evaluation of geomechanical changes from secondary hydrate formation and capillary pressure changes. 
  • Completed field scale simulations of production for Prudhoe Bay Unit L-106 (AK North Slope) and Ulleung Basin (Korean East Sea) sites
  • Completed geomechanical simulations that modeled induced changes in a hydrate system due to formation of secondary hydrates including frost heave, strong capillarity, and induced fracturing
  • Completed the merging of plasticity capabilities into the geomechanics and hydrate flow codes for use in modeling of sand production and system plastic behavior
  • Completed the coupling of fracturing simulator ROCMECH with TOUGH+ Hydrate
  • Completed the development of the geologic model and initiated field wide simulations for the Ulleung Basin location using two-way coupled flow and geomechanics
  • Completed the development of a coupled flow and geomechanics simulator for large deformation and testing the system against lab data
  • Researchers have incorporated the lab data into the numerical simulation models and continue to update constitutive relationships within the model based on experimental findings
  • Completed experiments to investigate hysteresis in hydrate stability (studying the memory effect of hydrate system)
  • Completed TAMU lab experiments targeting geomechanical changes from effective stress during dissociation in small scale cell
  • KIGAM has completed assessment of prior experimental hydrate depressurization efforts on the cm, 1-m 1.5-m and 10-m scale hydrate samples
Current Status

This project is now complete.  Results of the work are summarized in the Final Scientific and Technical Report available from the Additional Information section below. 

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Project End
DOE Contribution

$731,415 (including funding to both TAMU and LBNL) 

Performer Contribution


Contact Information

NETL – Richard Baker, Project Manager ( or 304-285-4714)
Texas A&M University – Dr. Jihoon Kim, Principal Investigator (

Additional Information
Experimental setup for 1D 1-m scale GH production
Experimental setup for 1D 1-m scale GH production
Experimental setup for investigation of geomechanical changes from effective stress changes during dissociation
Experimental setup for investigation of geomechanical changes from effective stress changes during dissociation