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Charting the Future of Methane Hydrate Research in the United States Appendix D Committee Summary and Observations of the DOE Conference/JIP Workshop held September 30 to October 1, 2003 in Westminster, Colorado The Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy Methane Hydrate Research and Development Conference and a workshop by ChevronTexaco on the Joint Industry Project (JIP) entitled Gulf of Mexico (GOM) Naturally Occurring Hydrates were held in the Denver, Colorado, area from September 29 to October 1, 2003. National Research Council (NRC) Committee members—E. Doyle (chair) and M.E.Q. Pilson and NRC staff member J. Merrill attended. Two additional committee members, E.D. Sloan and S. Dallimore, were present as invited speakers. The purpose in attending the conference and workshop was to better familiarize committee members with results of DOE studies conducted in the area of methane hydrate, to meet the participants, and to observe community input into the DOE Methane Hydrate Research and Development (R&D) Program. Presentations made at the conference and workshop are available at the DOE Web site http://www.netl.doe.gov/scng/hydrate/. The purpose of the DOE conference was to present up-to-date results on hydrate projects funded by DOE. The purpose of the workshop was to allow the ChevronTexaco JIP participants and the community to discuss recent project results and obtain input to plan the next stages of the JIP.
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Charting the Future of Methane Hydrate Research in the United States DOE Office of Fossil Energy Methane Hydrate R&D Conference The first day’s session included a keynote address by D. Sloan, The Development of Hydrate Knowledge, before a day on Arctic activities, which included a presentation by S. Dallimore on the Canadian-led effort on the Mallik gas hydrate production research well in the Mackenzie Delta, as well as two research well programs on the Alaska North Slope (Anadarko’s Hot Ice No 1 well and a well to be drilled by BP in the Eileen trend). In addition, there were presentations by Timothy Collett of the U.S. Geological Survey on the geological characterization of gas hydrate accumulations on the North Slope and a reservoir engineering study by G. Moridis of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL). S. Dallimore discussed the completed Mallik well study and noted that the results would be presented at an international conference in Japan in December 2003. The program appeared to be well planned and successfully executed. A significant number of Canadian and international partners participated in the effort, including DOE. Two presentations on the Hot Ice No.1 well—“Lessons Learned and Future Well Plans” by B. Liddell and “Update on the Remote Lab and Equipment” by Richard Sigal, both of the Anadarko Petroleum Corporation—provided an overview of the objectives and progress of the well. As of October 2003, the well had been drilled to the bottom of the permafrost, but had not drilled the suspected hydrate formation. Presentations were also made on the setting of the rig to minimize environmental impacts and details of the remote core lab placed on the rig. No experimental results were presented at the meeting. A presentation by R. Hunter from BP Exploration, Inc., titled “Natural Gas Hydrate Characterization, Prudhoe Bay—Kuparuk River Area, Alaska North Slope,” discussed the objectives of the study and the technical details of site selection. As of October 2003, the pre-drill site selection work had been completed and planning was under way to drill the well. The effort engaged academic and government entities and appeared to be well planned, with a high degree of potential success in encountering hydrate since well-control data were used in the site selection process. The reservoir engineering efforts including a consideration of risk were part of the planning. The second day’s session was devoted to marine hydrate and focused primarily on Gulf of Mexico research. It included presentations by Chev-
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Charting the Future of Methane Hydrate Research in the United States ronTexaco, the USGS, Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), the University of Mississippi, the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Minerals Management Service (MMS), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In general, these overview presentations highlighted the varied DOE-sponsored efforts. Presentations at the conference and the workshop highlighted the integration of many of these efforts toward a common purpose. Gulf of Mexico Naturally Occurring Gas Hydrates JIP Workshop This workshop consisted of formal presentations on exploration-level, three-dimensional seismic data reprocessing and interpretation, well-bore stability research, physical property study, drilling and coring, core handling issues, logging issues, and USGS site survey results. These presentations served as the technical basis of four breakout sessions addressing (1) drilling and coring plans, (2) core analysis plans, (3) core logging plans, and (4) site selection. Some of these presentations generated considerable discussion. For example, a GIT study on physical properties used tetrahydrofuran (THF) as the hydrate “guest,” rather than methane, and several participants questioned the assumption that actual methane-hydrate behavior could be approximated using THF. These discussions demonstrate how open scientific discourse early in the proposal or study process could troubleshoot potential weaknesses in research protocols or data interpretation. The breakout sessions were conducted in an open forum atmosphere, with the session leaders presenting a summary of the findings of each session at an open meeting at the end of the workshop. The JIP participants met after the workshop to synthesize the breakout session findings. The NRC committee members that attended the workshop agreed on which breakout sessions to attend so that each session was attended by at least one committee member. In general, the committee members that attended the workshop were pleased with the program’s progress and with the open communication afforded by the workshop atmosphere, but they had some concerns that many details related to the implementation of the project seemed to be incomplete. The overall objectives of the project seemed to be well defined—that is, the primary purposes of the program were to be able to seismically identify hydrate and to safely drill through it.
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