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Gas Hydrate Production Trial Using CO2 / CH4 Exchange
Project Number

The goal of this project is to define, plan, conduct and evaluate the results of a field trial of a methane hydrate production methodology whereby carbon dioxide (CO2) molecules are exchanged in situ for methane (CH4) molecules within a hydrate structure, releasing the methane for production. The objective is to evaluate the viability of this hydrate production technique and to understand the implications of the process at a field scale.

Methane Hydrates Well

Conceptual rendering of proposed CO2 – CH4 exchange methodology for the production of natural gas from hydrates.


ConocoPhillips Company, Houston TX and Anchorage AK
Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC), Japan


Globally and for the U.S., methane hydrates represent a potentially huge new source of the cleanest fossil fuel. A recent Minerals Management Service study estimated methane hydrate resources in the Gulf of Mexico at 21,000 trillion cubic feet (TCF), one hundred times the current U.S. proved reserves of natural gas. Hydrate accumulations off the Pacific and Atlantic coasts and on Alaska’s North Slope (ANS) hold additional potential. Yet this potential will remain untapped unless a technically and economically viable means of producing methane from hydrates is found.

Laboratory experiments conducted by ConocoPhillips and the University of Bergen have demonstrated the effectiveness of exchanging CO2 for CH4 in the hydrate structure, a process that releases the CH4 molecules for production purposes. Key observations in those studies include the rapid rates of CO2-CH4 exchange in hydrates formed in porous media under a range of initial conditions; the efficiency of the carbon dioxide displacing the methane from the hydrate structure that approaches theoretical limits; and the preservation of measurable permeability in the porous media during hydrate formation and exchange. The most important observation is that the exchange process (as performed in the laboratory) does not involve the release of free water to the pore system. Instead, the process appears to dissociate and re-form hydrate at very fast rates and on a micro-scale in such a manner that there is no free water formed or significant heat-of-reaction issues.

Under this project, ConocoPhillips plans to perform the first field trial of this methane hydrates production methodology at a site on the Alaska North Slope.


The project will add significant data and knowledge to the body of hydrates science. Geologic and geophysical science used to locate and quantify methane hydrate deposits will be expanded as field trial sites are identified and prioritized. Hydrate reservoir modeling capabilities will be advanced as the algorithms needed to simulate the exchange process are developed. Experience in drilling and completions technology related specifically to gas hydrates will also be gained.

A successful initial field trial will serve to inform planning of other longer-term tests needed to advance viable production technologies for methane hydrates and will provide insight into the possible role that the exchange methodology might play in future hydrate production scenarios.

Accomplishments (most recent listed first)
After measurement and compositional analysis, gas is flared at the Ignik Sikumi # 1 well site
After measurement and compositional analysis, gas is flared at the Ignik Sikumi # 1 well site
  • Data from the 2011 drilling and logging operations and the 2012 injection and production operations made publicly available. Click here to access data.
  • A project results and data workshop was held in Houston Texas in March 2013 and included ~50 scientists from hydrate-relevant scientific disciplines from around the globe.
  • Initial reporting of project results and data during a meeting hosted by project partner, JOGMEC, in Tokyo Japan in November 2012.
  • Completion of a full QA/QC of the data resulting from the Ignik Sikumi # 1 well and initial analysis of both injection and production phases of the test.
  • Successful completion of hydrate production testing operations at the Ignik Sikumi#1 well in the Prudhoe Bay unit on Alaska’s North Slope. Key production test achievements include:
    • Development and installation of equipment and infrastructure necessary to conduct the production test.
    • Injection of ~210,000 standard cubic feet (scf) of mixed carbon dioxide/nitrogen (CO2/N2) gas into the targeted hydrate-bearing portion of the well.
    • Sustainable flowback of gas from the well over an extended portion of the approximate six week production period.
    • Collection of a large suite of data from the well, including continuous temperature and pressure monitoring and real-time data on return gas compositions and constituent volumes.
    • Incident free operations throughout the field test.
    • Successful permanent plugging and abandonment of the well and reclamation of the ice pad-based well-site.
  • Addition of JOGMEC as a partner supporting project production testing efforts.
  • Simulation of the temperature behavior of the intended production test injection fluid, allowing determination of required surface heating capacity for field operations.
  • Successful drilling, logging, instrumentation, completion and temporary suspension of the Ignik Sikumi #1 gas hydrate field trial well from an ice pad in the Prudhoe Bay operating Unit (PBU) on the North Slope of Alaska.
    • Operations included a comprehensive downhole data acquisition and site characterization program and installation of a fully-instrumented wellbore completion [PDF-schematic courtesy ConocoPhillips] available for additional field production testing.
    • Operations were completed without health, safety or environmental incident
    • Operations were conducted from a 500 ft. x 500 ft. ice pad adjacent to the PBU L-Pad access road.
    • The surface hole was drilled—using water-based mud and logging-while-drilling (LWD) measurement—to a depth of 1,482 ft. and then cased, cemented, and pressure tested.
    • The remainder of the well was drilled (with LWD) to total depth of 2,597 ft using oil-based mud.
    • Wireline logs were obtained including: gamma-ray, resistivity, high resolution density, neutron porosity, oil-based mud imaging, combinable magnetic resonance, sonic scanner and borehole resistivity scanner.
    • Short duration tests were conducted using Schlumberger’s Express Pressure Tool (XPT) and Modular Formation Dynamic Tester (MDT).
    • Lower well completion included installation of an instrumented casing string with downhole temperature and pressure gauges and a continuous, fiber optic distributed temperature sensor.
    • Upper well completion included installation of chemical injection and gas lift mandrels.
    • Freeze protection was implemented and the well temporarily suspended in preparation for anticipated re-entry during a subsequent winter drilling season.
  • Acquisition of PBU Working Interest Owner approval for the performance of a two winter season field test, as a tract operation, from an ice pad near the PBU L-Pad.
  • Completion of detailed modeling and geologic /petrophysical characterization efforts to evaluate the potential effects of field test operations (drilling and cementing) on the permafrost and hydrate zones of the field test site and surrounding conventional oil and gas operations near the PBU L-Pad.
  • Detailed evaluation, ranking, and recommendation of project field sites on ANS.
Current Status

Project operations are complete. The final report is now available below under "Additional Information".

The data and results of this groundbreaking test are expected to be evaluated for years to come by hydrate scientists from around the world. DOE-NETL will attempt to compile the results and findings of these additional scientific studies within two years.

Ignik Sikumi #1 field trial well site
Ignik Sikumi #1 field trial well site
Nordic-Calista Drilling Rig #3 on site at the Ignik Sikumi #1 well,  Prudhoe Bay Unit, Alaska North Slope - photo courtesy ConocoPhillips
Nordic-Calista Drilling Rig #3 on site at the Ignik Sikumi #1 well, 
Prudhoe Bay Unit, Alaska North Slope - photo courtesy ConocoPhillips


Project Start
Project End
DOE Contribution

$15,593,184 (fully obligated)

Performer Contribution

Site Selection (Phase 1) – DOE Contribution: $0, Cost Share Contribution: $288,378
Field Test Planning (Phase 2) – DOE Contribution: $0, Cost Share Contribution: $2,150,656
Well Drilling and Completion (Phase 3A) – DOE Contribution: $8,220,765, Cost Share Contribution: $1,627,154
Production Field Trial (Phase 3B) – DOE Contribution: $7,372,419, Cost Share Contribution: $9,284,776

Planned Total Funding: $28,944,148
Cost Share Contribution: $13,350,964

Contact Information

NETL Hydrate Program Technology Manager – Ray Boswell ( or 304-285-4541)
NETL Project Manager – Richard Baker ( or 304-285-4714)
ConocoPhillips – David Schoderbek ( or 907-265-6010)

Additional Information

In addition to the information provided here, a full listing of project related publications and presentations as well as a listing of funded students can be found in the Methane Hydrate Program Bibliography [PDF].

Final Project Report [PDF-44.1MB] - July, 2013

Review of the Findings of the Ignik Sikumi CO2-CH4 Gas Hydrate Exchange Field Trial [PDF-1.15MB] - ICGH 2014

February 19, 2013 - Data from the 2011/2012 field test is now available! 
Click here to access data.

Experimental Hydrate Formation and Gas Production Scenarios Based on CO2 Sequestration [PDF-144KB] - Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Gas Hydrates (ICGH 2008)

Kickoff Meeting Presentation [PDF-891KB]