Recent drilling by a government and industry consortium confirm that the Gulf of Mexico is the first offshore area in the United States with enough information to identify gas hydrate energy resource targets with potential for gas production.
Gas hydrate, a substance comprised of natural gas and water, is thought to exist in great abundance in nature, and has the potential to be a significant new energy source to meet future energy needs. However, prior to this expedition, there was little documentation that gas hydrate occurred in resource-quality accumulations in the marine environment.
“This is an exciting discovery because for the first time in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, we were able to predict hydrate accumulations before drilling, and we discovered thick, gas hydrate-saturated sands that actually represent energy targets,” says U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Energy Program coordinator Brenda Pierce.
The U.S. Department of Energy, the USGS, U.S. Minerals Management Service and a group of U.S. and international energy industry companies under the management of Chevron were responsible for conducting this first-ever drilling project with the goal to collect geologic data on gas-hydrate-bearing sand reservoirs in the Gulf of Mexico.
“We have also found gas hydrate in a range of settings, including sand reservoirs, thick sequences of fracture-filling gas hydrates in shales, and potential partially saturated gas hydrates in younger systems,” notes USGS scientist Timothy Collett. “These sites should provide a wealth of opportunities for further study and data collection that should provide significant advances in understanding the nature and development of gas-hydrate systems.”
Significant technical accomplishments include:
The collection of a comprehensive set of logging-while-drilling (LWD) data
through expected hydrate-bearing sand reservoirs in seven wells at three
locations in the Gulf of Mexico.
LWD sensors provided unprecedented information on the nature of the sediments
and the occurrence of gas hydrate.
The expedition discovered gas hydrate in both sand and fracture dominated
The discovery of thick gas-hydrate-bearing sands validates the pre-drilling
integrated geological and geophysical approach used to identify the targets and
provides increased confidence in assessing the energy resource potential of
marine gas hydrates.
In the case of the Walker Ridge and Green Canyon drill sites,
gas-hydrate-bearing sand reservoirs between 50 feet and 100 feet thick were
- The discovery of concentrated gas hydrates in sand reservoirs has made Walker Ridge and Green Canyon prime locations for future research drilling, coring, and production testing.