Thursday, April 15, 2010

Expedition to find Gas Hydrates as a fuel source

Gas hydrates have scientists excited. They are naturally occurring fuel sources found at the bottom of the sea.  It 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 report made public by DOE, there was little documentation that gas hydrate occurred in resource-quality accumulations in U.S. waters. This could be a game changer. 
The worldwide amounts of carbon bound ingas hydrates is conservatively estimated to total twice the amount of carbon to be found in all known fossil fuels on Earth. Extraction of methane from hydrates could provide an enormous energy and petroleum feedstock resource. Future production volumes are speculative because methane production from hydrate has not been documented beyond small-scale field experiments.
One fact scientists will have to deal with before they get too excited  is that Methane, a "greenhouse" gas, is 10 times more effective than carbon dioxide in causing climate warming.
The Gulf of Mexico gas hydrates Joint Industry Project (“The JIP”), is a cooperative research program between the U.S. Department of Energy and an international industrial consortium under the leadership of Chevron.
Development of alternative sources of natural gas, such as methane hydrate, can help to guard against potential supply interruptions or shortages and improve energy security.
The U.S. R&D program is focused on the two major technical constraints to production: 1) the need to detect and quantify methane hydrate deposits prior to drilling, and 2) the demonstration of methane production from hydrate at commercial volumes. Recent and planned research and field trials should answer these two issues.

In recent field tests, researchers have demonstrated the capability to predict the location and concentration of methane hydrate deposits using reprocessed conventional 3-D seismic data, and new techniques, including multi-component seismic, are being tested. Modeling of small-volume production tests in the U.S. and Canadian Arctic suggest that commercial production is possible using depressurization and thermal stimulation from conventional wellbores.


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