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.
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.
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.
$15,593,184 (fully obligated)
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
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]