CHAPTER 1
Methane Hydrate Research in the United States

Ensuring reliable sources of natural gas is of significant strategic interest to the United States. Natural gas is the cleanest of all the fossil fuels, emitting from 25 to 50 percent less carbon dioxide than either oil or coal for each unit of energy produced.1 In recent years, natural gas has supplied approximately 20-25 percent of all energy consumed in the United States. In 2008, for example, a total of about 23 trillion cubic feet (TCF)2 of natural gas was used to supply heat and electrical power to various sectors of the economy, with domestic natural gas providing approximately 85 percent of this volume (EIA, 2009a,b). The relatively clean environmental footprint for combustion, the potential for securing significant domestic supplies, and the compatibility with existing infrastructure indicate that natural gas can be a cornerstone of an environmentally and economically sound domestic energy portfolio.

Accumulations of methane hydrate, a solid form of natural gas, may represent an enormous source of methane. Methane hydrate occurs in sediments within and below thick permafrost in Arctic regions and in the subsurface of most continental margins where water depths are greater than

1

http://www.eia.doe.gov/bookshelf/brochures/greenhouse/Chapter1.htm.

2

651 × 109 m3. The available literature on methane hydrate employs a mix of metric and English units, appropriately reflecting international and domestic contributions to this field of study. This report uses the original measurement unit of the cited reference, whether metric or English, followed by a conversion to the other unit of measure. For the reader’s interest, Appendix D contains a comparison of units of measurement of amounts of methane by volume and by weight.



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CHAPTER 1 Methane Hydrate Research in the United States Ensuring reliable sources of natural gas is of significant strategic interest to the United States. Natural gas is the cleanest of all the fossil fuels, emitting from 25 to 50 percent less carbon dioxide than either oil or coal for each unit of energy produced.1 In recent years, natural gas has supplied approxi- mately 20-25 percent of all energy consumed in the United States. In 2008, for example, a total of about 23 trillion cubic feet (TCF)2 of natural gas was used to supply heat and electrical power to various sectors of the economy, with domestic natural gas providing approximately 85 percent of this volume (EIA, 2009a,b). The relatively clean environmental footprint for combustion, the potential for securing significant domestic supplies, and the compatibility with existing infrastructure indicate that natural gas can be a cornerstone of an environmentally and economically sound domes- tic energy portfolio. Accumulations of methane hydrate, a solid form of natural gas, may represent an enormous source of methane. Methane hydrate occurs in sediments within and below thick permafrost in Arctic regions and in the subsurface of most continental margins where water depths are greater than http://www.eia.doe.gov/bookshelf/brochures/greenhouse/Chapter1.htm. 1 651 × 109 m3. The available literature on methane hydrate employs a mix of metric and English 2 units, appropriately reflecting international and domestic contributions to this field of study. This report uses the original measurement unit of the cited reference, whether metric or English, followed by a conversion to the other unit of measure. For the reader’s interest, Appendix D contains a comparison of units of measurement of amounts of methane by volume and by weight. 1

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R E A L I Z I N G M E T H A N E H y D R A T E P R O D U C T I O N I N T H E U .S . about 1,500 feet (about 500 meters) (Figure 1.1; Box 1.1). Although the esti- mated total global volume of methane in methane hydrate is still debated, generally acknowledged estimates yield figures between 2 and 10 times greater than those of technically recoverable conventional natural gas re- sources (see Chapter 2). The existence of such a large and as-yet untapped methane hydrate resource has provided a strong global research incentive to determine how methane from methane hydrate might be produced as a technically safe, environmentally compatible, and economically competitive energy resource (e.g., Council of Canadian Academies, 2008). Although methane is a cleaner-burning energy source than other fossil fuels, it is itself a significant greenhouse gas, about 25 times more potent per molecule than carbon dioxide on a 100-year basis (International Energy Administration, 2009). Thus, understanding the potential environmental impacts of methane hydrate degassing3 and the seafloor hazard (“geo- hazard”) potential resulting from methane hydrate dissociation, whether through natural processes or through oil and gas drilling and production, is also important as its potential for commercial production is considered and tested. NATIoNAL APPRoACH To METHANE HyDRATE RESEARCH AND DEVELoPMENT The Department of Energy (DoE), through congressional authoriza- tion in the Methane Hydrate Research and Development Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-193), and as reauthorized in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-58) (Appendix A), has led a national research effort to under- stand (1) the physical nature of methane hydrate occurrences in sedi- mentary rock layers in offshore and in permafrost areas, (2) methods to quantify and explore for methane hydrate accumulations in nature, (3) the stability and behavior of methane hydrate when disturbed by drilling and production, (4) the technological requirements to produce methane from methane hydrate, and (5) the potential environmental impacts of methane “Degassing” refers to methane from methane hydrate entering the atmosphere. 3 1

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Methane Hydrate Research in the U.S. Eileen Mallik (Mt Elbert) Messoyakha Lake Baikal IODP 311 UBGH1 ODP 204 JIP-1 ODP 164 METI GMGS-1 NGHP 01 Explanation Recovered gas hydrate samples Inferred gas hydrate occurrences FIGURE 1.1 Worldwide locations of methane hydrate occurrences show the location of sampled and inferred methane hydrate in oceanic sediment of outer continental Figure 1.1.eps margins and permafrost regions. Many of the recovered methane hydrate samples have been obtained during deep coring projects or seafloor sampling operations. Most of the inferred methane hydrate occurrences are marine sites at which bottom- simulating reflectors have been observed on available seismic profiles. The methane hydrate occurrences reviewed in this report have also been highlighted on this map. Numbers adjacent to abbreviated site locality names identify project or drilling legs. GMGS = Guangzhou Marine Geological Survey; IODP = Integrated Ocean Drilling Program; JIP = joint industry project (Department of Energy Methane Hydrate Program supported); METI = Ministry of International Trade and Industry of Japan; NGHP = National Gas Hydrate Program of India; ODP = Ocean Drilling Program; UBGH = Ulleung Basin Gas Hydrate. Modified from Keith Kvenvolden and others from the U.S. Geological Survey. 1

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R E A L I Z I N G M E T H A N E H y D R A T E P R O D U C T I O N I N T H E U .S . BOX 1.1 The Basics of Gas Hydrate and the Importance of Methane Hydrate Gas hydrate is an ice-like substance that forms when gas, at high concentrations, and water come into contact at high pressures and low temperatures (e.g., 60 bars, 4°C). Gas hydrate is composed of water molecules that bind together by hydrogen bonds to form a network of cages of various sizes. Small gas molecules such as methane, propane, and carbon dioxide (“guest” molecules) initiate cage formation and may become trapped in these cages (see opposite page). Other cages may remain vacant. Typically, large hydrate cages are more than 95 percent full of guests, while small cages are around 50 percent full of guests. The most common, naturally occurring gas hydrate structure is known as structure I (“sI”; see opposite page), which contains methane “guest” molecules. Therefore, gas hydrate occurring naturally in permafrost and marine sediments (see images on third page of box) is often referred to as methane hydrate.a Microbial methanogenesis (the decay of organic matter at shallow depths and low temperatures) is commonly the source of the methane stored in these hydrates. The formation of other gas hydrate structures (e.g., sII and sH, which are not discussed further because these structures are less common in nature than sI) requires additional components of heavier hydrocarbon gases, which are minimally formed during methanogenic gas production. The existence of these heavier components may indicate a thermogenic gas source. Thermogenic processes occur at higher temperatures and greater depths within sedimentary rocks where buried organic material is thermally altered into liquid and gaseous hydrocarbons. Although most of these hydrocarbons may remain at depth as “conventional” oil and natural gas accumulations, some of the gases, including methane, may also migrate to shallow depths and form methane hydrate if appropriate pressure and temperature conditions and sufficient free water exist. An important difference between methane hydrate deposits and those of “conven- tional” gas accumulations is the nature of the sedimentary rocks within which the gas is found: conventional natural gas fields trap gas in porous sedimentary beds, surrounded by impermeable rocks; methane hydrate deposits occur in relatively unconsolidated sediments where the ice-like hydrate structure itself serves as the trap for individual gas molecules. These characteristics add challenges to producing methane from methane hydrate—hence the description of methane hydrate as an “unconventional” gas resource. 1

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Methane Hydrate Research in the U.S. The structure I hydrate unit cell (unit cell = smallest repeating unit of the hydrate crystal) contains 46 water molecules and is composed of two small water cages (512) and six large water cages (51262). The water cages can trap gas molecules (not shown). SOURCE: Koh Figure Box 1.1 top.eps and Sloan (2008). bitmap, fixed image Because methane is trapped within the hydrate crystal structure, methane gas in hy- drate is greatly compressed. This results in an “energy density” for methane hydrate up to 164 volumes of gas per volume of hydrate (at standard temperature and pressure, or STP) which can be substantially higher than the energy density for conventional gas reservoirs at the same depth. Because the occurrence of methane hydrate is related to specific pressure- temperature conditions, increasing temperature and/or decreasing pressure cause the hydrate to become unstable and “dissociate,”b producing methane gas and water (see graphs on next facing page). This dissociation process can take place naturally, because of changing geologic conditions, or may be induced, for example, by drilling through methane hydrate to reach conventional oil and gas or methane hydrate deposits. These dissociation processes may also have environmental and drilling-safety impacts that need to be recognized and understood. 1

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R E A L I Z I N G M E T H A N E H y D R A T E P R O D U C T I O N I N T H E U .S . BOX 1.1 Continued Images showing different types of methane hydrate occurrences: (left) disseminated within Figure Box 1.1 Middle.eps pore-space of sand deposits (from Mount Elbert, Alaska North Slope), (right) layered methane bitmaps, 2 fixed images hydrate occurrence from drillcore on Southern Hydrate Ridge (ODP Leg 204); sample about 1 centimeter in thickness. SOURCES: (a) Mount Elbert Science Team, photo by E. Rosenbaum (http://energy.usgs.gov/images/gashydrates/MtElbert_coresample2LG.jpg); (b) Tréhu et al. (2003) ODP Leg 204 volume (http://www-odp.tamu.edu/publications/204_IR/ chap_02/c2_f11.htm). Facing page caption: Diagrams showing the depths within and below the permafrost or below sea level at which methane hydrate is stable. The geothermal (or hydrothermal) gradient (red dashed lines) is the change in temperature with depth. Methane hydrate can occur in the yellow envelope where the pressure (related to depth) and temperature are favorable for methane hydrate stability. In permafrost areas (left), the zone (yellow envelope) in which methane hydrate can exist in sediments lies between depths of about 200 and 1,100 meters (about 650-3,600 feet). In continental margins offshore (right), methane hydrate can occur, in this example, to a sediment depth of about 1,500 meters (about 4,900 feet). Although the methane hydrate stability zone extends above the seafloor, methane hydrate generally does not occur in the water column above the seafloor because the methane concentrations 1

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Methane Hydrate Research in the U.S. 0 0 DEPTH, IN METERS BELOW GROUND SURFACE Geothermal WATER SEDIMENT gradient DEPTH, IN METERS BELOW SEA LEVEL 200 200 in permafrost Hydrothermal gradient Phase 400 400 boundary Depth of Methane Methane 600 600 hydrate hydrate permafrost stable unstable Phase Zone of boundary Geothermal 800 800 methane hydrate gradient in sediment Methane Methane below hydrate hydrate permafrost 1000 1000 stable unstable Base of methane hydrate Sea floor Water 1200 1200 Sediment G e gr othe Zone of ad rm methane hydrate 1400 1400 ie a nt l in sediment Base of methane hydrate 1600 1600 10 20 -10 -20 0 30 -20 0 30 10 20 -10 o o TEMPERATURE C TEMPERATURE C are typically too low to form methane hydrate and methane hydrate is buoyant in seawa- Figure Box 1.1 - bottom.eps ter. In both permafrost and continental margin cases hydrostatic pressure dominates the pressure regime and accounts for the similar shapes of the phase boundaries. SOURCE: Kvenvolden (1988). Although “gas hydrate” is the more general term that does not require differentiating whether the “guest” a molecules are methane, propane, carbon dioxide, or others, the term “methane hydrate” is adopted uni- versally in the text to conform to the legislative language that authorized the National Methane Hydrate Research and Development Program in the United States (Appendix A). In this report, “dissociation” of methane hydrate refers to the change in phase that takes place when b methane hydrate is outside of its pressure/temperature stability field and converts from a solid to gaseous methane and liquid water. 1

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R E A L I Z I N G M E T H A N E H y D R A T E P R O D U C T I O N I N T H E U .S . degassing. Public Law 109-58 specified that DoE establish a National Research Council (NRC) study to assess the progress made by the DoE Methane Hydrate Research and Development Program (hereafter referred to as “the Program”) through the year 2009, with focus on the period since the last review of the Program by the NRC (2004). In response to DoE’s request, the NRC established the Committee on Assessment of the Department of Energy’s Methane Hydrate Research and Develop- ment Program to address the issues outlined in the study’s statement of task (Box 1.2). The committee consists of nine experts who contributed BOX 1.2 Statement of Task The Energy Policy Act of 2005, Section 968, calls for the Secretary of Energy to enter into an agreement with the National Research Council to (1) conduct a study of the progress made under the Methane Hydrate Research and Development (R&D) Program, and (2) make recommendations for future methane hydrate R&D needs. Specifically, the study will 1. Briefly review previous methane hydrate research conducted by DOE and its federal and nonfederal collaborative partners from 2000 to 2005. 2. Review in detail the methane hydrate R&D conducted by DOE and partners from 2005 to 2007, considering the progress made in identifying and addressing the issues related to resource and reserve estimates, discovery methodology, produc- tion technology, and environmental impacts. 3. Review the process by which past and current R&D has been and is being conducted and advised, including domestic interagency coordination (between DOE and the U.S. Geological Survey, National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, Minerals Management Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Science Foundation, and the Office of Naval Research); collaboration with institutes of higher education, oceanographic institutions, and industry; international coop- 0

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Methane Hydrate Research in the U.S. their professional expertise in areas of biogeochemistry; organic, environ- mental, and experimental geochemistry; geomechanics; geophysics; marine geology; oceanography; oil and gas exploration and production, including drilling in methane hydrate–bearing targets on land and at sea; petroleum engineering; and risk analysis (Appendix B). This report constitutes this committee’s response to the study charge. This chapter provides the framework in which the committee examined the Program by reviewing briefly the Program highlights in the period from fis- cal years 2000 to 2005 and some of the primary activities the Program has eration and collaboration; the methane hydrate advisory panel mechanism; and peer review mechanisms. 4. Evaluate future R&D needs, with specific attention to a. The use of remote sensing and improved seismic processing for identification of methane hydrate resources; b. Developing new technologies to produce natural gas from methane hydrate, including technologies to reduce the risk of drilling through methane hy- drate; c. Assessing the research conducted to evaluate and mitigate the environmental impact of hydrate degassing, both naturally and in conjunction with com- mercial exploitation; d. The scope and design of exploratory drilling, well testing, pilot and full- scale production well tests on permafrost and non-permafrost gas hydrate necessary to address (a) through (c), above. 5. Make recommendations concerning a. Suitability of methane hydrate resources to make a substantial contribution to domestic natural gas supply by 2025; b. Changes to the current program of R&D to meet the research needs identified above; c. Coordination of interagency, academic, and industrial research and partner- ships, domestically and internationally, in carrying out the Program; d. Graduate education and training in methane hydrate research and resource production. 1

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R E A L I Z I N G M E T H A N E H y D R A T E P R O D U C T I O N I N T H E U .S . undertaken since the 2004 NRC report was issued. Chapter 2 discusses the current state of methane hydrate research domestically and internationally through the description of recent, important experimental, theoretical, and field-based discoveries that have significantly advanced understanding of methane hydrate as well as some of the key remaining research challenges. Importantly, these discoveries and challenges have helped raise the level of research awareness given to methane hydrate from one of general scien- tific importance with respect to environmental and geohazard concerns to one of focused research interest in methane hydrate as a potentially viable energy resource. Chapter 3 specifically examines the research portfolio of the Program, and Chapter 4 describes the organizational processes the Pro- gram employs to coordinate methane hydrate research and development in the United States. Chapter 5 presents the committee’s conclusions and recommendations regarding the Program’s future research directions. An important difference between the emphasis of this report rela- tive to that of the last NRC evaluation (NRC, 2004) is the fact that the Program has matured significantly in both the number and progress of its sponsored research projects in the past 5 years. At the time the last review was conducted, only a small number of research projects sponsored by the Program were at advanced enough stages to provide published results that could be used to evaluate and gauge the direction of the Program. The present report thus places significant emphasis on the Program’s currently active research areas, progress with active research projects and their results, and impacts of the Program’s sponsored research activities to draw mean- ingful conclusions and recommendations that might further advance the Program. Because this present report is timed to coincide with the final year of the Program’s current authorization period, the report results are intended to inform decisions regarding the Program’s future directions and resources, particularly with regard to the suitability of methane hydrate to make a contribution to domestic natural gas supply by 2025. The year 2025, as assigned to the committee in its statement of task and also cited in several of the Program’s described aims, is viewed by this committee as a convenient longer-term mark against which the Program’s achievements can be planned and evaluated, rather than as an absolute determinant of the 

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Methane Hydrate Research in the U.S. Program’s overall success. The committee’s recommendations thus address research that will assess whether methane from methane hydrate can be technically produced without specific consideration of the years by which specific results will be achieved. The committee acknowledges that com- mercial production of methane from methane hydrate in the future will depend not only on technical feasibility but also on economic, regulatory, and other issues. The committee did not address these latter factors in the course of this study because they are not part of the Program’s current technical research mandate. THE DoE4 METHANE HyDRATE RESEARCH AND DEVELoPMENT PRoGRAM, 2000-PRESENT 000 Through 00 Although DoE has sponsored some research on methane hydrate since at least 1982, the 2000 Methane Hydrate Research and Development Act authorized DoE to establish a focused, 5-year national program, the broad purposes of which were (1) to improve coordination in methane hydrate research among various public and private agencies and science and engi- neering disciplines in the United States and (2) to support basic and ap- plied research that identified, explored, assessed, and developed methane hydrate as an energy resource. Authorized initially with about $3 million in 2000, the funding levels for the program were authorized to increase to $12 million annually by 2004 (NRC, 2004; Appendix E). In addition to serving a constructive, coordinating role regarding inter- agency methane hydrate research, the Program used relatively modest re- sources in these initial years to solicit proposals and provide partial support for three cooperative agreements with industry, one in the Gulf of Mexico (with Chevron in the management role) and two on the Alaska North The Program is organized and managed by a joint effort between DoE and the National Energy 4 Technology Laboratory (NETL). Because the congressional mandate specifically calls upon DoE to coordinate the Program, we refer to the Program in this report as DoE’s without differentiating whether the activities involved DoE, NETL, or, as in the majority of cases, both. 

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R E A L I Z I N G M E T H A N E H y D R A T E P R O D U C T I O N I N T H E U .S . Slope (with BP Exploration Alaska [BPXA] and Maurer/Anadarko in the management roles). Twenty-nine smaller-scale projects were supported by the Program and performed by university, institute, and national labora- tory researchers; two additional projects undertaken as part of the federal collaboration effort were managed by and received primary support from the U.S. Geological Survey (Appendix F). The Program also participated in an international drilling consortium managed and coordinated by the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC) and on cruises of the ocean Drilling Program (oDP) and cruises sponsored by industry. The project coordi- nated by the GSC focused on drilling and testing a methane hydrate well (the Mallik well) in Arctic Canada (see Chapter 2 for discussion), and the oDP and industry cruises were organized to drill and log methane hydrate core samples. The three large industry projects in this initial phase of the Program were designed around strong field-based components with an aim to drill exploration- and/or production-test wells in permafrost and offshore regions. Key early, long-term goals included development of exploration and drilling techniques appropriate for methane hydrate, characteriza- tion of the physical and chemical properties of methane hydrate from drill cores, and understanding methane hydrate as a potential geohazard. These goals were necessary for both the projects and the Program to gen- erate results that could eventually be applied by industry in a commercial production setting. Two of these cooperative projects with industry (the Chevron- and BPXA-managed projects) continue to the present time (see below, and also Chapters 2 and 3). Exploration drilling was only conducted in one project (the “Hot Ice” well of the Maurer/Anadarko project) at the time of the NRC (2004) report. Unfortunately, no methane hydrate was found in this well. Inadequate site survey planning led to the failure of that endeavor. The other 26 projects initiated in this period used laboratory experi- ments, modeling, sample (drill-core) analysis, geophysical research, and technology development to address a number of the Program mandates including understanding the physical and chemical characteristics of methane hydrate in place, the behavior of methane hydrate during changes 

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Methane Hydrate Research in the U.S. in pressure and temperature, the development of remote-sensing5 methods to detect and quantify methane hydrate, and development of new tools to collect and analyze methane hydrate core samples (NRC, 2004). Seven- teen of these projects had been completed (by design) as of the time of the present assessment (Appendix F). The Program employed various mechanisms to oversee its research portfolio during this period. Establishing a Methane Hydrate Advisory Committee (MHAC), an Interagency Coordinating Committee, and selection and evaluation criteria for research proposals and projects were among the more encompassing of these organizational activities. Many of the findings and recommendations of the NRC (2004) report addressed these types of procedural aspects of the Program and indicated areas for improvement, and the report also underscored the critical role played by the Program in providing a national incentive to produce energy from and under- stand the implications of drilling through methane hydrate. The report went further to indicate that no obvious technical or engineering barriers were apparent that would deter the production of methane from methane hydrate in the future, given sufficient in-place reserves (NRC, 2004). The projects established during this initial period of the Program’s existence also established a precedent for collaboration among researchers from aca- demia, federal agencies, research institutions, and industry, with industry and federal agencies in particular participating in cost-sharing agreements (Appendix F). The collaborations with industry are considered integral to enable future commercial-scale applications to be implemented. 00 Through Present Day Much of the congressional reauthorization language for the Program in the 2005 Energy Policy Act was similar to the 2000 Program authorization. Consistent themes between the two Acts included a focus on (1) basic and The committee uses the term “remote sensing” in this report to refer broadly to geophysical 5 techniques employed to “sense” or “detect” subsurface characteristics of methane hydrate occurrences. These techniques may include seismics, electromagnetics, remotely operated vehicle observations, or temperature measurement in boreholes, for example. 

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R E A L I Z I N G M E T H A N E H y D R A T E P R O D U C T I O N I N T H E U .S . applied research to develop methane hydrate as a commercial resource in an efficient and environmentally sound manner, (2) conducting exploratory drilling, (3) technology development to reduce the risk of drilling through methane hydrate, (4) mitigating the environmental impact of natural methane hydrate degassing and degassing associated with development, and (5) education and training. Procedurally, both pieces of legislation also placed importance on interagency coordination and DoE’s collaboration with other institutes, effective transfer and communication of knowledge and information, and establishment of an advisory panel of external experts (Appendix A). Several new additions to the Program focus were also included in the 2005 language: (1) the descriptions of the research and development pri- orities were more nuanced, with new emphasis on remote-sensing tech- niques, including acquisition and processing of seismic data, to identify and characterize methane hydrate accumulations; and (2) specific explor- atory drilling goals included one or more full-scale production tests in permafrost and nonpermafrost areas. The 2005 language also addressed the Program’s management and organization through identification of new graduate fellowships to support education and training, the establishment of external scientific competitive peer review as part of the proposal and grant process, and emphasis on ensuring greater participation by DoE in international cooperative projects. The role of the MHAC was also made more inclusive by indicating that the body would provide scientific over- sight for the program, assess progress toward Program goals, and provide recommendations to increase the Program’s quality. The authorized appro- priations over each of the fiscal years 2006-2010 were also indicated to increase above levels authorized for 2000-2004 (Appendix E). W ith modest annual budgets, the DoE Program made specific efforts during 2005-2009 to enact programmatic and procedural changes to improve management and success of its sponsored research projects. These changes were implemented on DoE’s own initiative, on the basis of advice from the MHAC, and in response to recommendations in the previous NRC report. operative visions and rationale for methane hydrate research in the nation and the role of the Program in coordinating this re- 

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Methane Hydrate Research in the U.S. search were also articulated in this period through several public documents (e.g., Boswell et al. [2006]; and MHAC [2007], which included the Inter- agency Five-year Plan for Methane Hydrate Research and Development; see Chapter 4 for details). Two key goals articulated by the program include (1) providing by 2015 an initial assessment of the scale of the potentially commercially viable gas hydrate resource on the Alaska North Slope, and (2) demonstrating the technical recoverability and assessing the economic recoverability of marine gas hydrate–bearing sand reservoirs by 2025.6 Simultaneously with these programmatic efforts, DoE increased the number and scope of its smaller-scale research projects, established two new cooperative-agreement projects with industry, and supported the con- tinuation of the Gulf of Mexico joint industry project managed by Chevron and the cooperative agreement on the Alaska North Slope with BPXA into more intricate phases in their planned research (Appendix F). Federal agencies and national laboratories also deepened their involvement in vari- ous collaborative research endeavors (details in Chapters 2, 3, and 4). Very broadly, then, the Program has taken specific actions in the past 5 years to increase the level and productivity of the national methane hydrate research and development that it helps to support. CoMMITTEE PRoCESS To address the study charge and establish conclusions and recommenda- tions, the committee, in addition to its own expertise, reviewed (a) relevant DoE reports, (b) reports and other public documents from federal agencies involved in interagency methane hydrate research collaborations, (c) peer- reviewed literature on methane hydrate conducted both within and outside the auspices of the DoE program, (d) information from the DoE Web site,7 and (e) information submitted by and requested from external sources, including three public meetings (Appendix C). Public meetings included http://www.netl.doe.gov/technologies/oil-gas/FutureSupply/MethaneHydrates/rd-program/ 6 goals.htm. http://www.netl.doe.gov/technologies/oil-gas/FutureSupply/MethaneHydrates/maincontent. 7 htm. 

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R E A L I Z I N G M E T H A N E H y D R A T E P R O D U C T I O N I N T H E U .S . dialogue with the study sponsors, other federal agencies, university and national laboratory researchers with projects supported by the Program, industry representatives from the large field projects, and importantly also, researchers from the Japanese methane hydrate program. In addition to discussion of research methods and results, information was also provided on the organizational and administrative process employed by the DoE program. Throughout the study process, the committee also received valu- able input through informal interviews with various professionals associ- ated with methane hydrate research and/or with various aspects of the Program, such as the MHAC members and participants in the interagency coordinating groups. CoNCLUDING REMARKS The future U.S. energy portfolio is evolving as energy demand, greenhouse gas emissions, the energy transmission infrastructure, and national energy security issues are considered nationally and locally. Informed planning to develop consistent energy and environmental programs requires consider- ation of existing and emerging energy sources. With global energy demand projected to increase, unconventional resources such as methane hydrate become important to consider as part of the future U.S. energy portfolio. Methane derived from methane hydrate is an emerging resource candidate that has captured domestic and international research attention but which also presents a number of technical and environmental challenges that re- quire attention before commercial production can be realized. These chal- lenges include developing the technology necessary to produce methane from this unconventional gas occurrence and understanding more about methane hydrate in terms of its potential to behave as a geohazard and how degassing of methane hydrate may affect the environment. Because most of the methane hydrate research presently conducted in the United States is supported by the DoE Program and its federal partners, this report is designed to give DoE, other agencies, and policy makers a framework in which to evaluate the goals of and to determine appropriate support for 

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Methane Hydrate Research in the U.S. the Program in the context of the nation’s future energy and environmental needs. REFERENCES Boswell, R., R. Amato, R. Coffin, T. Collett, G. Dellagiarino, R. Fisk, J. Gettrust, B. Haq, D. Hutchinson, K. Puglise, P. Ray, and K. Rose. 2006. An Interagency Roadmap for Methane Hydrate Research and Development. Available online at http://www.netl.doe.gov/technologies/ oil-gas/publications/ Hydrates/pdf/InteragencyRoadmap.pdf. Accessed october 15, 2009. Council of Canadian Academies. 2008. Energy from Gas Hydrates: Assessing the opportunities and Challenges for Canada. ottawa, ontario: Council of Canadian Academies. 206 pp. EIA (Energy Information Administration). 2009a. Natural Gas Comsumption by End Use. Available online at http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/dnav/ng/ng_cons_sum_dcu_nus_a.htm. Accessed october 15, 2009. EIA. 2009b. Natural Gas Gross Withdrawals and Production. Available online at http://tonto.eia.doe. gov/dnav/ng/ng_prod_sum_dcu_NUS_a.htm. Accessed october 15, 2009. International Energy Administration. 2009. Energy Sector Methane Recovery and Use: The Im- portance of Policy. Available online at http://www.iea.org/papers/2009/methane_brochure.pdf. Accessed october 15, 2009. Koh, C. A., and E. D. Sloan. 2008. Natural gas hydrates: Recent advances and challenges in energy and environmental applications. AIChE Journal 53(7):1636-1643. Kvenvolden, K. A. 1988. Methane hydrate—a major reservoir of carbon in the shallow geosphere�� Chemical Geology 71:41-51. MHAC (Methane Hydrate Advisory Committee). 2007. Report to Congress: An Assessment of the Methane Hydrate Research Program and an Assessment of the 5-year Research Plan of the Department of Energy. Available online at http://www.fe.doe.gov/programs/oilgas/hydrates/ MHAC-07-ReportToCongress-final.pdf. Accessed october 15, 2009. NRC (National Research Council). 2004. Charting the Future of Methane Hydrate Research in the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. 193 pp. Tréhu, A. M., G. Bohrmann, F. R. Rack, M. E. Torres, N. L. Bangs, S. R. Barr, W. S. Borowski, G. E. Claypool, T. S. Collett, M. E. Delwiche, G. R. Dickens, D. S. Goldberg, E. Gràcia, G. Guèrin, M. Holland, J. E. Johnson, y.-J. Lee, C.-S. Liu, P. E. Long, A. V. Milkov, M. Riedel, P. Schulteiss, X. Su, B. Teichert, H. Tomaru, M. Vanneste, M. Watanabe, and J. L. Weinberger. 2003. P roceedings of the Ocean Drilling Program, Initial Reports 204. 

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