THE DEVELOPMENT PATH FOR HYDRATE NATURAL GAS Johnson, Arthur H.
The question of when gas hydrate will become a commercially viable resource most concerns those nations with the most severe energy deficiencies. With the vast potential attributed to gas hydrate as a new gas play, the interest is understandable. Yet the resource potential of gas hydrate has persistently remained just over the horizon. Technical and economic hurdles have pushed back the timeline for development, yet considerable progress has been made in the past five years. An important lesson learned is that an analysis of the factors that control the formation of high grade hydrate deposits must be carried out so that both exploration and recovery scenarios can be modeled and engineered. Commercial hydrate development requires high concentrations of hydrate in porous, permeable reservoirs. It is only from such deposits that gas may be recovered in commercial quantities. While it is unrealistic to consider the global potential of gas hydrate to be in the hundreds of thousands of tcfs, there is a strong potential in the hundreds of tcfs or thousands of tcfs. Press releases from several National gas hydrate research programs have reported gas hydrate “discoveries”. These are, in fact, hydrate shows that provide proof of the presence of hydrate where it may previously only have been predicted. Except in a few isolated areas, valid resource assessments remain to be accomplished through the identification of suitable hosts for hydrate concentrations such as sandstone reservoirs. A focused exploration effort based on geological and depositional characteristics is needed that addresses hydrate as part of a larger petroleum system. Simply drilling in areas that have identifiable bottom simulating reflectors (BSRs) is unlikely to be a viable exploration tool. It is very likely that with drilling on properly identified targets, commercial development could become a reality in less than a decade.
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