Energy Resources Program
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Gas hydrates are naturally occurring ice-like combinations of natural gas and water that have the potential to provide an immense resource of natural gas from the world's oceans and polar regions. Gas hydrates are known to be widespread in permafrost regions and beneath the sea in sediments of outer continental margins. It is generally accepted that the volume of natural gas contained in the world's gas hydrate accumulations greatly exceeds that of known gas reserves. There is also growing evidence that natural gas can be produced from gas hydrates with existing conventional oil and gas production technology. The USGS is participating in several international consortia of research, industry, and academic institutions. The USGS also has ongoing cooperative research efforts with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), the State of Alaska, the Department of Energy, industry, and Native Alaskan corporations to further the understanding of gas the hydrate endowment and recoverability.
The Government of India, with the support of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), has released the initial results of the most comprehensive gas hydrate scientific drilling investigation ever undertaken.
Go to Field Report
In 2008 USGS completed the first assessment of the undiscovered technically recoverable gashydrate resources on the North Slope of Alaska. Using a geologybased assessment methodology, the USGS estimates that there are about 85 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of undiscovered, technically recoverable gas resources within gas hydrates in northern Alaska.
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On May 6, 2009 a government and industry consortium, lead by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and a group of U.S. and international energy industry companies under the management of Chevron completed the first ever drilling project with the expressed goal to collect geologic data on gas-hydrate-bearing sand reservoirs in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Mallik Research Consortium drilled three test wells in Canada’s Mackenzie Delta, and the results of this international cooperative effort, demonstrating the producibility of this energy resource, were published in 2005. Results Publication:
GSC Bulletin 585.
Go to Project Summary (DOE/NETL)
In 2008 an international partnership led by the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) under the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas (Government of India) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) released the results of the most complex and comprehensive gas hydrate field venture yet conducted.
In 2005 a transect of four sites (U1325, U1326, U1327, and U1329) across the northern Cascadia margin was established during Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Expedition 311 to study the occurrences and formation of gas hydrate in accretionary complexes. In addition to the transect of sites, a fifth site (U1328) was established at a cold vent with active fluid and gas flow.
The four transect sites represent different stages in the evolution of gas hydrate across the margin from the earliest occurrence on the westernmost first accreted ridge (Site U1326) to its final stage at the eastward limit of gas hydrate occurrence on the margin in shallower water (Site U1329).
Two of the most studied permafrost-associated gas hydrate accumulations are those at the Mallik site in the Mackenzie River Delta of Canada and the Eileen gas hydrate accumulation on the North Slope of Alaska. The science program in support of the DOE and BP sponsored Mount Elbert gas hydrate test well project in northern Alaska generated one of the most comprehensive data sets on an Arctic gas hydrate accumulation along with critical gas hydrate reservoir engineering data.
Go To Field Report
South Korea has established a strong national gas hydrate program organized under the Korean Gas Hydrate Research and Development Organization (GHDO-K). The USGS maintains a close cooperative research relationship with GHDO-K, who in 2008 signed a Memorandum of Understanding with USDOE to collaborate on gas hydrate energy resource research. In the summer of 2010, USGS scientists participated in an Ulleung Basin gas hydrate drilling expedition off the east coast of Korea (85 day drilling, coring, and logging expedition).
In 2013, the USGS in partnership with the Consortium for Ocean Leadership and U.S. Department of Energy authored a topical report that charted the path toward the collection of data through marine scientific drilling that can be used by scientists, engineers, managers, and planners to better understand the impact of marine methane hydrates on safety and seafloor stability and to assess the feasibility of marine methane hydrate as a potential future energy resource.
National Oil and Gas Assessment
The Energy Resources Program provides periodic assessments of the oil and natural gas endowment of the United States.
USGS Podcast (Episode 74 - 11/12/2008): Gas Hydrates on Alaska's North Slope
Download Directly | See Podcast Transcript and Details
USGS Gas Hydrate Project
Woods Hole Science Center
Gas Hydrate and Climate Change
DOE Methane Hydrate R&D Program
NETL Methane Hydrate Web Site
NETL Fire in the Ice Newsletter
NETL Methane Hydrate Primer
Gas Hydrate Energy Resource Potential
Current Perspectives on Gas Hydrate Resources
111th Congress Hearing: Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources Oversight Hearing on "Unconventional Fuels, Part II: The Promise of Methane Hydrates"
Burning Gas Hydrates. Photo by J. Pinkston and L. Stern (USGS).
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Page Last Modified: Friday, May 12, 2017