3
A Review of Methane Hydrate Research and Development Projects to Date

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Methane Hydrate Research and Development (R&D) Program is directed toward understanding the potential of methane hydrate as a natural gas resource, the role of methane hydrate formation and dissociation in global climate dynamics, and safety issues surrounding drilling and production activities in areas where methane hydrate is present. This chapter summarizes the project selection criteria and reviews science accomplished to date under this program.

PROJECT SOLICITATION AND AWARD CRITERIA

The selection process for research and development projects during the course of the first three years of the program (outlined in Figure 3.1) has varied. Project solicitations for the DOE Methane Hydrate R&D Program were based initially on the results of two planning workshops and the resulting strategy documents (DOE, 1998, 1999). In addition, in August 2000, the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) and Chevron-Texaco held a Gulf of Mexico hydrate R&D planning workshop with 90 participants from NETL, industry, and academia. These planning efforts helped to frame the project solicitations, avoid duplication of ongoing research, and target relevant future research (DOE, 2004a). Information on science in the project selection process can be found in Chapter 5.

There are six solicitation or project types currently funded by the DOE Methane Hydrate R&D Program (Table 3.1).



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Charting the Future of Methane Hydrate Research in the United States 3 A Review of Methane Hydrate Research and Development Projects to Date The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Methane Hydrate Research and Development (R&D) Program is directed toward understanding the potential of methane hydrate as a natural gas resource, the role of methane hydrate formation and dissociation in global climate dynamics, and safety issues surrounding drilling and production activities in areas where methane hydrate is present. This chapter summarizes the project selection criteria and reviews science accomplished to date under this program. PROJECT SOLICITATION AND AWARD CRITERIA The selection process for research and development projects during the course of the first three years of the program (outlined in Figure 3.1) has varied. Project solicitations for the DOE Methane Hydrate R&D Program were based initially on the results of two planning workshops and the resulting strategy documents (DOE, 1998, 1999). In addition, in August 2000, the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) and Chevron-Texaco held a Gulf of Mexico hydrate R&D planning workshop with 90 participants from NETL, industry, and academia. These planning efforts helped to frame the project solicitations, avoid duplication of ongoing research, and target relevant future research (DOE, 2004a). Information on science in the project selection process can be found in Chapter 5. There are six solicitation or project types currently funded by the DOE Methane Hydrate R&D Program (Table 3.1).

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Charting the Future of Methane Hydrate Research in the United States FIGURE 3.1 The DOE Methane Hydrate R&D Program project selection process. NOTE: DAS = Deputy Assistant Secretary. NETL = National Energy Technology Laboratory. SOURCE: Courtesy of Brad Tomer and Ray Boswell, U.S. Department of Energy, National Energy Technology Laboratory, Morgantown, West Virginia.

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Charting the Future of Methane Hydrate Research in the United States TABLE 3.1 DOE-Funded Methane Hydrate Research from 2000 through 2003 by Solicitation or Project Type   FY 2001 funding FY 2002 funding FY 2003 funding Totals for 2000-2003   (in dollars) Targeted solicitation 4,000,000 4,596,244 5,648,014 14,244,258 Broad-based solicitation 1,148,000 889,560 214,304 3,694,395 National laboratory 1,200,000 1,160,000 915,000 3,775,000 Interagency 1,298,870 1,077,438 491,000 3,342,308 NETL in-house projects 700,000 450,000 950,000 2,795,000 Other nonfederal government procurements 689,272 188,660 0 917,932 Total funding 9,036,142 8,361,902 8,218,318 28,768,893   SOURCE: Data from DOE, 2004a. Targeted solicitations were designed for a specific research area, hence awards were issued exclusively for projects that matched the specifications. The original program solicitation issued in 2001 was targeted and included studies addressing gas hydrate research needs in four specific research areas: (1) the Gulf of Mexico (both lab and field), (2) Alaska, (3) hydrate as a medium for transporting natural gas, and (4) gas hydrate modeling consortium and partnership development. The selection criteria for these projects included technical criteria (scientific and technical merit, technical approach, and technical management capabilities) and government cost evaluation (DOE, 2004a). Six cooperative agreement awards with planned DOE allocations of $33.8 million (67 percent of planned program expenditures) resulted from this solicitation, including three industrial projects with planned allocations of $30.8 million (63 percent of planned program expenditures through 2005). No awards were granted in the areas of transportation or modeling partnership development.

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Charting the Future of Methane Hydrate Research in the United States Broad-based solicitations were issued over a wide range of research areas. They have been used in years when funding is uncertain or too low to warrant a targeted solicitation (DOE, 2004a). Broad-based solicitations were issued in FY 2002 and 2003. This type of solicitation allows DOE to select projects that can fill gaps in the program. The selection criteria for FY 2000 and FY 2002 included technical criteria (scientific and technical merit and technical approach and understanding) and government cost evaluation (DOE, 2004a). All awards were issued to university-based principal investigators (PIs). The total planned expenditure for these projects is $3.7 million (8 percent of planned program expenditure). National laboratory projects were used to fill critical gaps or to provide support for R&D activities being performed by others. Field-work proposals (FWPs) are grants typically made to other national laboratories via DOE National Laboratory Applied Research Calls (“lab calls”). The lab calls are competitive among all national laboratories, which must submit a proposal to NETL for merit review according to a defined technical need. FWPs are also used to fund industry studies that include national laboratory activities (up to 25 percent). In this case, the national laboratory receives direction from an industry partner. The source selection criteria for DOE lab calls included research concept and plan, applicant or team capabilities and facilities, and technology transfer (DOE, 2004a). To date, nine national laboratory projects have been funded with approximately $4 million (8 percent of planned total program expenditure). Interagency projects are used to address gaps in research using an interagency agreement (DOE, 2004a). The study tasks are agreed upon at interagency Technical Coordinating Team (TCT) meetings and during subsequent collaboration between DOE and the agency doing the work. The DOE currently has interagency agreements with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, with a total planned expenditure of $3.3 million from 2000 through 2005 (7 percent of total planned program expenditure). NETL in-house projects are granted through a process of proposal submission and external and internal review. The NETL Office of Science and Technology (OST) submits proposals to the gas supply technology manager. The proposals are subjected to external merit review and internal NETL review for relevance to program needs. An external expert panel with members from industry, academia, other federal agencies, and national labs subsequently reviews the proposals considered relevant. Currently, three projects valued at $2.8 million have received funding using this mechanism (DOE, 2004a).

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Charting the Future of Methane Hydrate Research in the United States Other nonfederal government procurements include fixed-price contracts and small purchase orders. Fixed-price contracts are used when no other alternatives are available to perform unique tasks requiring timely action. Small purchase orders are limited to purchases of less than $100,000 geared primarily toward filling research gaps or to fill unique requirements in a timely manner. Eight projects are currently funded under this category, for a total planned allocation of $0.9 million. PROJECT REVIEWS The DOE Methane Hydrate R&D Program has funded 30 projects since its initiation in 2001. Prior to FY 2001 (FY 1997-2000), DOE funding for methane hydrate research was provided from NETL’s Strategic Center for Natural Gas (SCNG) and not from appropriations of the Methane Hydrate R&D Act. A summary of projects with their goals and performers is presented in Appendix F. The DOE funding obligations and research-related project objectives are presented in Tables G.1 and G.2 of Appendix G. In order to capture the major efforts of the program, only projects with funding greater than $100,000 per year are reviewed in the following sections. Projects are reviewed under four major categories: (1) international collaborative projects; (2) industry-managed targeted research projects; (3) USGS programs; and (4) smaller-scale projects. These projects were chosen by the committee based on the criteria of (1) potential for meeting the goals of the DOE Methane Hydrate R&D Program and (2) the fraction of available funds that they consumed. The four categories comprise well over 90 percent of the funded work and include the most significant research since the program was established. Two major international collaborative efforts to which DOE contributed are reviewed because they are the only large-scale international efforts to study hydrate since the act was passed. They highlight the need for broad-based international and multidisciplinary efforts in planning and executing field experiments that are optimally designed to address complex natural gas hydrate systems. The next section evaluates the status of three major DOE-industry collaborations funded under the category of targeted research projects. These are currently under way and are expected to consume more than 60 percent of the resources available through the program. After DOE-industry collaborations, USGS programs sponsored by the DOE Methane Hydrate R&D Program have the largest budget. The USGS has a long

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Charting the Future of Methane Hydrate Research in the United States tradition of leadership in U.S. hydrate research on all fronts (resource evaluation, field observations, and laboratory experiments). The final section evaluates smaller-scale investments of the DOE Methane Hydrate R&D Program. These investments include a seafloor observatory in the Gulf of Mexico focused on seafloor mounds and vents. This is the largest program within the projects being conducted at an academic institution. Other university-based and laboratory studies are discussed in less detail. It is worthwhile to note that with the exception of the Mallik project, Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) Leg 204, and some USGS projects, there are very few peer-reviewed publications resulting from the research funded by the DOE Methane Hydrate R&D Program. Where available, publications are cited in the appropriate sections; however, much of the research currently funded by the program has not been published in the scientific or technical literature, limiting the publicly available knowledge on gas hydrate. INTERNATIONAL PROJECTS International interest in understanding and developing hydrate is increasing. Countries such as Canada, Japan, and India are investing significant resources in hydrate research. Japan, for example, is reported to be investing $65 million in 2004 in hydrate research (information available at http://www.aapg.org/explorer/emd/03_11.cfm). Plans for 2004 include drilling and coring between 10 and 20 wells in the Nankai Trough off Japan’s East Coast, where gas hydrate was recovered during field studies in 2000. This Web site states: The government of India also is funding a large national gas hydrate program to meet their growing gas requirements. Seismic data have been acquired on the Indian continental margin, and current plans call for drilling and coring dedicated gas hydrate wells in 2004. Given this increase in international hydrate research, DOE has invested in some programs offered for participation. The DOE Methane Hydrate R&D Program has been cost-effective through participation in two leading international programs that were being developed some years before the Methane Hydrate Research and

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Charting the Future of Methane Hydrate Research in the United States Development Act of 2000. These projects both fall into the category of other nonfederal government procurements. Although less than 4 percent of the total DOE Methane Hydrate R&D Program budget (Appendix G) was allocated to the Canadian Geological Survey Mallik 2002 program ($339,000) and the 2002 Joint Oceanographic Institutions Leg 204 project ($1.4 million, including matching funding), vital results were obtained. These include the following: It is possible to produce gas in combustible amounts from natural hydrate reservoirs in the permafrost. Models of gas production from a hydrate reservoir can be compared to transient well-test data with tuned model parameters. The models can be used to optimize future production techniques. Oceanic hydrate samples can be compared and contrasted with those from the permafrost for technology transfer. A brief overview of these projects illustrates the benefits of international collaboration. Mallik 2002 International Gas Hydrate Production Research Well Program The DOE Methane Hydrate R&D Program participated in this program, a multidisciplinary scientific and engineering program undertaken with a primary goal to “assess the recoverability and potential production characteristics of the onshore natural gas hydrate” (http://www.netl.doe.gov/newsroom/index.html), and which was given the 2003 Canadian Award of Excellence. The project was carried out at the Mallik gas hydrate field, Mackenzie Delta, Canada, a site where rich gas hydrate-bearing strata had been identified from international scientific drilling in 1998 (Dallimore et al., 1999; Plate 2b). The 2002 program was undertaken as collaboration between eight partners and was also incorporated into part of the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (Dallimore et al., 2002). The program had a total budget of $25 million ($13 million in direct funding; $12 million pledged in in-kind support), of which the DOE Methane Hydrate R&D Program contributed $339,000. The Geological Survey of Canada (GSC) and the Japan National Oil Corporation were the lead agencies coordinating the overall program. However, contributions were also made by GeoForschungs-

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Charting the Future of Methane Hydrate Research in the United States Zentrum Potsdam, the USGS, India (Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas and Gas Authority of India, Ltd.), an industry joint venture party (made up of Chevron Canada Resources, BP Canada Energy Company, and Burlington Resources Canada, Ltd.) and the DOE. The Mallik 2002 program provides an example of an integrated science and engineering research endeavor. The research team included approximately 100 scientists and engineers from more than 20 institutes in 7 countries. Two 1,188 m science observation wells and one 1,166 m production research well were drilled and instrumented (Dallimore et al., 2002). Numerous novel geophysical experiments were conducted, continuous cores were collected through the gas hydrate interval, and several climate and environmental studies were initiated. Full-scale field experiments in the production well monitored the physical behavior of the hydrate deposits in response to depressurization and thermal stimulation. The observation wells facilitated cross-hole tomography and vertical seismic profile experiments (before and after production) as well as the measurement of in situ formation conditions. A post-field research program included laboratory and modeling studies to document the sedimentology, physical and petrophysical properties, geophysics, geochemistry, microbiology, and production behavior of the Mallik 2002 gas hydrate accumulation. The Mallik 2002 program was the theme of an international gas hydrate symposium held in Chiba, Japan, in December 2003, which was attended by more than 250 gas hydrate researchers. More than 70 technical papers were presented at this symposium (proceedings available at http://www.mh21japan.gr.jp/english/index.html). A final publication stemming from the program is expected in 2004; it will include more than 65 technical papers and full public release of scientific data. In addition, the GSC maintains a project Web site where continuing information on the project may be obtained at http://gashydrate.nrcan.gc.ca/mallik2002/home.asp. By providing funding support for the Mallik 2002 project, the DOE became a nonvoting partner in the program. In this capacity, the DOE was able to access and share all of the intellectual property and data developed through the program as well as enable project scientist participation. Three DOE labs actively contributed to the program as did a number of other U.S.-based researchers.

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Charting the Future of Methane Hydrate Research in the United States Ocean Drilling Program Leg 204 The ODP is an international partnership between the United States and 22 international partners that use the scientific drilling ship JOIDES Resolution to conduct basic research into biogeochemical processes and Earth history as recorded in sediments and rocks beneath the ocean floor. Projects are proposed by independent groups of investigators and are evaluated for scientific merit and “drilling readiness” through a series of peer reviews by individual scientists and international committees. Drilling generally represents the culmination of several years of integration of geological and geophysical data to ensure that drill sites are optimally positioned to address the questions posed by the project. Results from each program are communicated rapidly to the research community through comprehensive publications and through an extensive online database. Two ODP programs, Leg 164 to the Blake Ridge offshore southeast U.S. continental margin in 1996 and Leg 204 to Hydrate Ridge offshore Oregon in 2002, were dedicated to understanding the distribution of gas hydrate in marine sediments and the processes leading to this distribution. Distribution of gas hydrate was also a secondary objective of several other ODP legs, including Leg 141 offshore Chile, Leg 146 offshore Oregon and Vancouver Island, and Leg 201 offshore Peru. The Methane Hydrate Research and Development Act of 2000 supported a variety of activities associated with Legs 201 and 204 of the ODP through contracts to the Joint Oceanographic Institutions (JOI) and Columbia University. Leg 201 (January-March 2002) was focused on understanding microbial life deep within marine sediments. It also provided a test-bed for some new technologies that were instrumental in the success of Leg 204 (July-September 2002). Leg 204 was the second ODP leg dedicated to understanding gas hydrate, building on results from ODP Legs 146 and 164. During Leg 204, nine sites were drilled within a well-defined structural setting. Activities supported by DOE included: modifications of the ODP Pressure Core Sampler (PCS), which was originally developed by ODP to sample gas hydrate on Leg 164; construction of two new PCSs; participation in Legs 201 and 204 of a new generation of pressure coring tools (Hydrate Autoclave Coring Equipment [HYACE]) developed by a consortium funded by the European community;

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Charting the Future of Methane Hydrate Research in the United States purchase of infrared (IR) cameras and associated software and construction; and leasing of downhole seismic instrumentation and of instrumentation to acquire logging-while-drilling (LWD) data during Leg 204. DOE funds provided to the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL) and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) also supported participation of two scientists from these laboratories and postcruise studies on recovered samples from Leg 204. All data collected during Leg 204 were released in December 2003 with the Leg 204 Initial Report (Tréhu et al., 2003). This report is also available through the ODP database (http://www.odp.tamu.edu/database). Further analysis of results and interpretations has begun to appear in the peer-reviewed literature (Milkov et al., 2003, 2004a,b,c; Tréhu et al., 2004; Torres et al., 2004). All members of the shipboard party have an obligation to publish their results by January 2005. The data gathered on Leg 204 greatly improved knowledge of the distribution of gas hydrate on continental margins and the dynamics of gas hydrate formation and dissociation in the marine environment. This provides the best-documented basis for technology transfer from permafrost to oceanic hydrate. The DOE investment of $1.4 million in Leg 204 represents less than 12 percent of the total cost of that leg (F. Rack, Joint Oceanographic Institutions, Washington, D.C., personal communication, 2004), which illustrates the value of leveraging funds through international collaboration. International Project Summary and Findings By effectively leveraging funding, the DOE Methane Hydrate R&D Program made a wise investment of relatively small resources toward several major international research efforts. It is clear that projects such as the Mallik 2002 Production Research Well Program and the ODP Leg 204 have led to significant qualitative and quantitative improvement in our understanding of gas hydrate processes in nature and their potential value as an energy resource. The DOE Methane Hydrate R&D Program played a key role by contributing direct funding to these projects. Most important is that the participation by U.S. scientists in these international programs enhanced their success and ultimately

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Charting the Future of Methane Hydrate Research in the United States benefited U.S. programs by providing increased intellectual support. Success has been realized through the multidisciplinary and international nature of the research and through careful attention to scientific overview, as well as checks and balances to ensure that these projects reached their research and development goals. Gas hydrate research is truly a global activity, and the future design of the DOE Methane Hydrate R&D Program will benefit by fostering and encouraging participation in international programs. Future programs, however, will most likely require greater investment (e.g., a full partnership) and also more directed scientific leadership. Therefore, unless substantially greater resources are devoted to the DOE Methane Hydrate R&D Program, the United States may fall behind other nations in leading hydrate development technology. Attention must also be given to ensure that international research ventures provide public access to data and reports. However, the U.S. DOE Methane Hydrate Research and Development Program is currently not funded at a level to allow participation in large scale international research efforts such as proposed for continuing studies at Mallik. Substantial scientific efforts on methane hydrate research are in progress internationally, particularly in Japan, Canada, Germany, and India. Together with the United States, this international community has made substantial progress in the last five years towards realizing gas hydrate as an energy source. It will be to the benefit of all nations, including the United States, to foster further collaboration with groups conducting this research. Where appropriate, the DOE Methane Hydrate R&D Program should be encouraged to participate in or to lead such endeavors. INDUSTRY-MANAGED TARGETED RESEARCH PROJECTS Approximately 61 percent of the planned DOE Methane Hydrate R&D Program funding has gone toward three industry-managed flagship activities within the program. These three projects would not have been conceived or executed without that funding. Two methane hydrate projects were dedicated to energy-related research goals in Alaska: the BP Exploration (Alaska), Inc. (BPXA) project and the Maurer/Anadarko project. A regional focus in Alaska is justified because there is general

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Charting the Future of Methane Hydrate Research in the United States major projects (including USGS), the program has also supported 35 smaller contracts at levels ranging from $94,000 to $1,862,108 (planned cost) (DOE, 2004a). These can be grouped into three general categories: (1) University of Mississippi efforts to establish a seafloor observatory in the Gulf of Mexico, (2) other university-based studies, and (3) laboratory or modeling projects. The third category of projects is being conducted primarily in national laboratories, including Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), INEEL, and PNNL. Seafloor Observatory in the Gulf of Mexico Most of the contribution of the DOE Methane Hydrate R&D Program to the academic community is in a single project coordinated by the University of Mississippi. The objective of the project is to establish a remote, multisensor monitoring station at a selected location within the hydrate stability zone of the northern Gulf of Mexico. This effort is the largest activity supported by the program that addresses basic research to assess environmental impacts of natural methane emissions from gas hydrate. It is a broad-based effort that includes subcontracts to eight different academic institutions in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. This observatory project, if successful, would provide basic in situ data on gas hydrate on the seafloor that would be beneficial to all three major parts of the hydrate initiative—resource assessment, seafloor stability, and environmental impacts of natural methane emissions. Several projects in this category were briefly described in a presentation at the DOE Office of Fossil Energy Methane Hydrate R&D Conference in September 2003 in Westminster, (Appendix D). These projects include development of temperature probes and cameras to study the response of a gas hydrate mound to fluctuations in bottom water temperature. Some preliminary results of this project have been presented at professional meetings and in project newsletters (e.g., Fire in the Ice, 2003; Lutken and McGee, 2004). Another project entails development of a seafloor shear wave source. A third project will lead to instrumentation of a borehole with a variety of geophysical instruments. The fourth major project leads to a new instrument to recover porewaters at in situ pressure. Although it is likely that these different projects will lead to increased understanding of processes related to gas hydrate in the Gulf of Mexico, it is not clear from the material available how these disparate projects fit

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Charting the Future of Methane Hydrate Research in the United States together to address the stated objective. This group should be encouraged to prepare a concise overview of the entire program and to disseminate intermediate and final results widely and rapidly through presentations at scientific conferences and peer-reviewed publications. Other University-Based Studies Over the four years since the passage of the Methane Hydrate Research and Development Act of 2000, approximately $1.8 million has been distributed to six other university-based projects. The funded projects range from $90,000 for logging analysis (Columbia University) to $700,000 for three-dimensional seismic surveys (University of Texas). For the most part, these smaller, university-based projects were generated to answer specific questions related to other parts of the DOE Methane Hydrate R&D Program (Appendix F). Titles and funding for the five largest projects are given in Table 3.2. As for all of the projects discussed in this report, the committee recommends that the results undergo the normal peer-reviewed process of publication and validation. Laboratory Studies Approximately $8.3 million, distributed among approximately 13 projects with budgets ranging from $0.1 million to $1.5 million, has been granted to internal research groups at NETL and at various national laboratories (Table 3.3). These projects include modeling studies of gas hydrate reservoir development: reservoir model development at LBNL (Box 3.1); characterization of microbes associated with gas hydrate at INEEL; development of more advanced tools to image hydrate cores, such as X-ray scanner development at LBNL; laboratory efforts to determine physical properties of synthetic and natural hydrate samples at ORNL; and field efforts to acquire geophysical site characterization data at the NRL. Some of these efforts are clearly integrated with overall program objectives, and the results are being widely disseminated to the hydrate research community (e.g., LBNL reservoir modeling results that are being used to plan both Arctic drilling efforts (Box 3.1), INEEL analysis of cores from Mallik and Leg 204). Other efforts are more difficult to evaluate

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Charting the Future of Methane Hydrate Research in the United States because of a lack of publications and little detail in the annual reports supplied by DOE. Scientific direction is needed to ensure that these multiple projects are clearly directed, without significant redundancy to DOE Methane Hydrate R&D Program objectives. Direction is also needed to ensure that results of these studies are communicated in a timely way to related studies that can build on their results. Smaller-Scale Project Summary and Findings The DOE Methane Hydrate R&D Program has, through its proposal process, funded a number of examples of small-scale research and development projects. Typically, these projects have had budgets of only a small percentage of the total, but they are expected to yield important results. Productivity was enhanced when workers built upon an existing knowledge base, had a history of working in the area, undertook effective collaboration with other workers in the field, and strove for technology transfer between fields. An example is the LBNL reservoir simulation model described in Box 3.1. This model was based on an existing reservoir model that was modified for hydrate and is being calibrated using data from field projects such as Mallik (Dallimore et al., 1999; Moridis et al., 2002). It is important to note, however, that the results of many of these projects have not been published, and therefore, they could not be thoroughly evaluated. A summary of DOE Methane Hydrate R&D Program sponsored projects should be issued on an annual basis and posted on the program Web site. DOE Methane Hydrate R&D Program Breadth A review of the content of the present program showed that two gas hydrate research areas stipulated in the Methane Hydrate R&D Act (Box ES.1) are not being addressed: (1) Section (C), “research programs to provide a safe means of transport and storage of methane produced from methane hydrates”; and (2) Section (D), promotion of “education and training in methane hydrate resource research and development.” Section (E), to “conduct basic and applied research to assess and mitigate the environmental impacts of hydrate degassing

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Charting the Future of Methane Hydrate Research in the United States TABLE 3.2 Other University Efforts Funded by DOE Project Title Performing University Planned DOE Cost (dollars) Planned Non DOE (dollars) A Submersible- Deployed Micro-Drill for Sampling of Shallow Gas Hydrate Deposits Texas A& M University 190,160 43, 000 Characterizing Marine Gas Hydrate Reservoirs Using Three- Dimensional Seismic Data University of Texas, Bureau of Economic Geology 700,418 178,477 Field Study of Exposed and Buried Gas Hydrates in the Gulf of Mexico University of California, San Diego, (Scripps Institution of Oceanography 334,256 89, 320 Three-Dimensional Structure and Physical Properties of Methane Hydrate Deposit at Blake Ridge University of Wyoming 228,306 61,159 Fundamentals of Natural Gas and Species Flows from Hydrate Dissociation—Applications to Safety Problems Clarkson University 268,183 103,795   SOURCE: Data from DOE, 2004a.

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Charting the Future of Methane Hydrate Research in the United States TABLE 3.3 National Laboratory Efforts Funded by DOE Project Title Performer Laboratory Planned DOE Cost (dollars) Gas Hydrates Research in Deep Sea Sediments NRL 1,498,638 Characterizing Gas Hydrate Kinetics and Biochemistry ORNL 345,000 Mesoscale Characterization of Natural and Synthetic Gas Hydrates ORNL 565,000 Fundamental Physical Properties and Chemical Stability of Gas Hydrates LLNL 570,000 X-Ray Scanning for Characterization of Gas Hydrate Bearing Cores LBNL 393,000 Characterization of Methane Hydrate Bearing Sediments and Hydrate Dissociation Kinetics PNNL 340,000 Improved Technologies for Detecting Gas Hydrates PNNL 450,000 Collection and Microbiological Analysis of Gas Hydrate Cores INEEL 430,000 TOUGH2 (transport of unsaturated groundwater and heat ) Hydrate Reservoir Simulator Development LBNL 810,000 Structural Characterization of Natural Gas Hydrates BNL 75,000 Properties of Natural Gas Hydrates NETL-OST 625,000 Kinetics of Natural Gas Hydrates NETL-OST 950,000 Physical Properties, Natural Gas Production, Environmental, and Safety and Seafloor Stability Aspects of Gas Hydrates NETL-OST 1,270,000   SOURCE: Data from DOE, 2004a.

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Charting the Future of Methane Hydrate Research in the United States Box 3.1 LBNL Hydrate Modeling: A Small Project with a Major Technology Impact Because hydrate field experiments are very expensive (e.g., the aforementioned successful examples of Mallik II [$25 million] and ODP Leg 204 [$11.5 million]), an efficient alternative is to model the production from hydrate reservoirs. Such a model is the goal of the project “TOUGH2 (EOSHYD2) Hydrate Reservoir Simulator Development” at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, funded at a total cost of $0.81 million over four years. The EOSHYD2 model is based on the program TOUGH2, resulting from many years of LBNL reservoir modeling development for the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository. The EOSHYD2 model incorporates the best independently measured physical property data into a fundamental reservoir model. The model has been used to predict and to match hydrate production results from many of the above projects, such as Mallik 2002, and used for project planning purposes for the BPXA and Maurer/Anadarko projects. The program code for EOSHYD2 was made publicly available on June 24, 2004, at DOE’s NETL. At minimal cost, EOSHYD2 can be used to answer important questions, such as the following: Can depressurization alone economically produce hydrate reservoirs, or will thermal stimulation be required for economic production? What types of hydrate reservoirs will be most productive? (LBNL has determined three classes of economically productive reservoirs.) What model parameters have the most influence on production (needed to assess which parameters should be measured most accurately)? What innovative production techniques (e.g., horizontal drilling) are likely to produce reservoirs more effectively? The availability of the LBNL EOSHYD2 model has resulted in requests for predictions from every hydrate reservoir project, resulting in a healthy collaborative interchange with a number of national and international projects. At the same time, LBNL has worked to make public the information from EOSHYD2 (Moridis et al., 2002). A second small LBNL project “X-Ray Scanning for Characterization of Gas Hydrate Bearing Cores” ($0.39 million over four years) has resulted in transfer of medical technology measurements to verify hydrate reservoir predicttions. This healthy interchange is a good example of building on past expertise and technologies, resulting in substantial cost savings in field projects.

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Charting the Future of Methane Hydrate Research in the United States (including both natural degassing and degassing associated with commercial development)” is addressed only minimally. Currently, there are no funded projects that advance applied and basic research on understanding the role of methane hydrate in climate change, in slope instability, and as a possible geological hazard. (The committee has construed the act authorizing studies on hydrate decomposition [degassing] to inclued climate change. Relative to Section (C), gas storage and pipeline transmission are advanced technologies, so little new effort may be needed. However, transmission of stranded gas (methane in quantities too small to justify a liquefaction facility and more than 400 km from an existing pipeline) is implied in Section (C) as a possible research area. DOE has determined, with good reason that such research cannot be done with the limited funding available. Japanese industries (Ota et al., 2002) are designing ships to carry methane in the form of methane hydrate. This process requires less energy than transporting natural gas as liquefied natural gas (LNG). If this mode of transporting natural gas is successful, it will expand opportunities to utilize conventional stranded gas as well as geologic deposits of methane hydrate. None of the project summaries (Appendix F) explicitly include education and training in methane hydrate resource research and development under Section (D). The intent of Section (D) may be interpreted as support for graduate student and postdoctoral research. There may be some support for a few academic projects, but they are not explicitly identified. There are numerous examples of effective, competitive graduate and postdoctoral fellowship programs that originate in government agencies (e.g., DOE’s Hollander Fellowships; the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Global Change Fellowship Program; and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Science Foundation, and the ODP JOI), and the establishment of a parallel fellowship program focused on methane hydrate resource R&D is recommended. This would provide program identity to the graduate community and attract new perspectives to the field. Only one project in the program is directed toward assessment of the environmental impacts of hydrate decomposition as directed under Section (E). The University of Mississippi project is establishing a mooring with sampling and monitoring devices to provide instrumentation within a borehole. One aspect that should be addressed as part of this component is determining background methane levels and some measure of in situ microbial activity. Other pressing, but difficult, questions concern the natural rate of gas hydrate dissociation and the processes whereby methane can pass

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Charting the Future of Methane Hydrate Research in the United States through the gas hydrate stability zone without forming hydrate by either. These questions could be addressed under the DOE Methane Hydrate R&D Program, via either measurements or modeling. Projects to address tasks (C) and (D) were not funded, and only one minor project was funded under task (E). The DOE Methane Hydrate R&D Program makes leveraging of funds an important project-funding priority. Perhaps future funding efforts should stress the importance of the project rather than whether a particular effort could be leveraged with other funds. SUMMARY The DOE Methane Hydrate R&D Program has effectively advanced a number of R&D goals and better prepared the nation for the realization of gas hydrate as an energy source. Some notable advances have also been made in terms of assessing the importance of gas hydrate as a geohazard. While outlined as an area of possible research in the Methane Hydrate Research and Development Act of 2000, the present program has not addressed issues related to transportation, and has only indirectly addressed issues of education, and has only provided limitedly provided support for research on environmental effects of hydrate decomposition. FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS Findings By effectively leveraging funding, the DOE Methane Hydrate R&D Program made wise investments of relatively small resources toward major international research efforts. Relative to the United States, other countries (e.g., Japan) are spending significantly more money on hydrate research. A review of the industry-managed targeted research projects raises questions that are different for each project but have the potential to limit the application of their results to meeting the program goals.

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Charting the Future of Methane Hydrate Research in the United States The USGS has a long history of gas hydrate research (in both the laboratory and the field) and collaboration, which has provided basic and essential information on the chemistry of gas hydrate. The DOE Methane Hydrate R&D Program has, through its proposal process, funded a number of small-scale R&D projects. Some of these have had a major technological impact. It is important, however, to note that the results of many of these projects have not been published, and therefore, they could not be thoroughly evaluated. With respect to the research areas described in the Methane Hydrate Research and Development Act (Box ES.1), the DOE Methane Hydrate R&D Program funded research on identifying, exploring, assessing, and developing methane hydrate as a source of energy (research area A); assisting in developing technologies for efficient and environmentally sound development (research area B); developing technologies to reduce the risk of drilling (research area F); and conducting exploratory drilling (research area G). No projects have been funded in the area of transportation and storage. None of the projects emphasized education and training. Research projects only minimally addressed the area of environmental impacts of degassing (decomposition as the solid-state hydrate transforms to the gaseous state) and its potential for affecting climate. The DOE Methane Hydrate R&D Program provides a significant incentive and valued role in developing this nation’s ability to produce energy from gas hydrate and to understand the potential geological constraints to drilling hydrate. Recommendations It will be to the benefit of all nations, including the United States, to foster further collaboration with groups conducting methane hydrate research. Where appropriate, the DOE Methane Hydrate R&D Program should be encouraged to lead such endeavors.

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Charting the Future of Methane Hydrate Research in the United States Substantially greater resources need to be devoted to the DOE Methane Hydrate R&D Program, otherwise the United States may fall behind other nations in leading hydrate development technology. To ensure the future success of large, industry-managed, targeted research projects, the DOE Methane Hydrate R&D Program should implement the following: science-based proposal review; science-based assessments of project progress and milestones; expert consultation with a diverse project team; data to be made publicly available; and peer-reviewed publication of results. The USGS should continue to play a major role in gas hydrate research as a collaborator in the DOE Methane Hydrate R&D Program. A summary of DOE Methane Hydrate R&D Program-sponsored projects should be developed on an annual basis and posted on the program Web site. A set of instructions and guidelines outlining the requirement for timely and full disclosure of project results should be provided to project proponents. As much as practical, these instructions should include the consequences of noncompliance. DOE should strengthen its contribution to education and training through funding of postdoctoral fellowships and should increase efforts in basic research to address the relationship between gas hydrate and climate change. It is, however, appropriate that some research areas mentioned in the Methane Hydrate R&D Act (e.g., transportation) receive no support since they are peripheral to the primary objectives of the act.

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