Global Gas Hydrate Resource Blows Global Natural Gas Resource Out of the Water
The world has a lot of methane hydrate. A Minerals Management Service study in 2008 estimated methane hydrate resources in the northern Gulf of Mexico at 21,000 trillion cubic feet, or 100 times current U.S. reserves of natural gas. The combined energy content of methane hydrate may exceed all other known fossil fuels, according to the DOE. _ABCNewsDid you catch that? Gas hydrates just in the northern Gulf of Mexico -- an estimated 100 X (!) the current US reserves of natural gas.
Given that the worldwide resource of gas hydrates is huge, the next question is: Are these resources safely accessible? The answer from a large field research project in Alaska appears to be "yes."
Methane could be extracted by lowering pressure or increasing temperature in an underground reservoir.Consider the map above, and the comparative graph of different hydrocarbon resources. Yes, the reality is that the amounts of all of the hydrocarbons listed in the graphic are being badly underestimated. That is the nature of geological estimates -- necessarily conservative in nature.
"One of the issues with that, though, is that you are melting the ice, and adding a lot of gas and water to the reservoir, which can compromise the reservoir's strength," Boswell said.
The Alaska research focused on a method aimed at preserving the underground ice structure. The extraction technique was based on studies done by ConocoPhillips and the University of Bergen in Norway. Researchers in a laboratory injected carbon dioxide into methane hydrate. CO2 molecules swapped places with methane molecules, freeing the methane to be harvested but preserving the ice.
The DOE worked with ConocoPhillips and Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp. to see if it would work in the field. They named the North Slope well Ignik Sikumi, an Inupiat Eskimo phrase that translates as "fire in the ice."
Researchers injected 210,000 cubic feet of carbon dioxide and nitrogen into the underground reservoir through perforated pipe. Instruments measured pressure, temperature and produced gases. They tracked injected gases without fracturing the formation.
Scientists collected data from 30 days of methane production, five times longer than anyone had done before. They are now trying to determine if methane produced was from an exchange with CO2, a reaction to the nitrogen, or a reaction to pressure changes down the hole.
Researchers are optimistic. _ABCNews
But we know enough about how gas hydrates are formed to understand that they are -- to a large extent -- a renewable resource. If you can not comprehend how this could be the case, you have some interesting reading ahead of you. Don't let me keep you from it. ;-)
Labels: methane clathrates