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Planning of a Marine Methane Hydrate Pressure Coring Program for the Walker Ridge and Green Canyon Areas of the Gulf of Mexico
Project Number
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The primary goal of this research is to develop scientific, operational, and logistical plans for a future methane hydrate-focused offshore coring program, including a scope of work, technical specifications, and schedule and budget estimate needed to implement a marine expedition.


Fugro GeoConsulting, Inc., Houston TX

Aumann and Associates, Salt Lake City UT
GeoTek, United Kingdom
West Virginia University, Morgantown WV
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge MA


Prior research efforts undertaken in numerous countries, including the United States, have made significant progress and have focused on offshore drilling campaigns whose goals have included direct sampling and testing of methane hydrates. Several such campaigns have been undertaken in the United States including, most recently, the DOE-supported and Chevron-led Gulf of Mexico Joint Industry Project (JIP) Leg I (2005) and Leg II (2009).

The JIP Leg II campaign was specifically conceived to investigate the nature of hydrate occurrences in sand-dominated systems, principally by means of logging-while-drilling operations. The campaign confirmed the presence of gas hydrate reservoirs at boreholes in both Green Canyon Block 955 (GC955) and Walker Ridge 313 (WR313) in the Gulf of Mexico. The locations for the two wells were selected utilizing prospectivity analysis based primarily on 3-D exploration seismic data. The success of the two wells was a significant achievement and legitimized the conceptual approach taken to prospect for potential methane hydrate reservoirs in deep water. Conclusions drawn from the 2009 JIP Leg II program included recommendations to perform additional research drilling programs to further delineate the potential hydrate resource through the use of pressure coring and pressure core analysis systems.

The overall focus of this project is to help enable—through detailed scientific and operational planning—the future collection of methane hydrate pressure cores, which will add to the body of scientific knowledge of the characteristics of in situ methane hydrate occurrences and contribute to scientific and engineering efforts to assess potential exploitation of methane hydrates as an energy resource.

The project will consist of a study resulting in the preparation of plans and recommendations for all aspects of a future offshore hydrate-focused research campaign.


The project could potentially be used to help guide and enable future field-based collection of hydrate data through the documentation of logistical, , technical, and operational information related to hydrate-focused marine pressure coring operations . This information could facilitate the conduct of future marine hydrate research expeditions, which represent a critical path to collecting the data needed to characterize the occurrence and behavior of oceanic hydrates and, ultimately, assess their feasibility as a potential future energy resource. 

Accomplishments (most recent listed first)
  • Development of operational/logistical plan for a conceptual gas hydrate focused research expedition including guidance based on lessons learned from past hydrate expeditions.
  • Initiated development of content to be included in the projects primary deliverable (conceptual operational plan for a hydrate focused site characterization program) including incorporation of lessons learned from previous hydrate research expeditions.
  • Conducted multiple content development sessions with project collaborators at GeoTek, USGS, Aumann and Associates.
  • Completed development of project execution plan for a field expedition that will help identify critical information for operational and logistical plans and which provides a mechanism to include lessons learned from recent marine hydrate research expeditions.
  • Conducted an internal project workshop (May 2014), focused on developing the key structure of operational and logistical plans under the project.
  • Established initial plans for a peer review workshop with a wider group of hydrate research experts.
Current Status

(November 2015)
Research efforts under this project are complete. The final report is available below under "Additional Information".

Project Start
Project End
DOE Contribution


Performer Contribution

Cost Share Contribution: $115,770

Planned Total Funding: $578,850

Contact Information

NETL – Richard Baker ( or 304-285-4714)
Fugro GeoConsulting Inc. – Gary Humphrey (

Additional Information

Final Report [PDF-8.15MB] September, 2016