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Gas Hydrates

Gas Hydrates

Gas hydrates are a naturally-occurring combination of natural gas (predominantly methane) and water that form under specific conditions of low temperature and moderate pressure. Once thought to be rare in nature, gas hydrates are now known to occur in great abundance in association with arctic permafrost and in the shallow sediments of the deep-water continental shelves. The most recent estimates of gas hydrate abundance suggest that they contain perhaps more organic carbon that all the world’s oil, gas, and coal combined. 

Research in this area is focused on collaborating with industry, academia, international research organizations, and other U.S. government agencies to advance the scientific understanding of gas hydrates as they occur in nature so that their role as a safe and economic resource can be more fully understood. Three parallel paths are being pursued: the first, to confirm the scale and nature of the potentially recoverable resource through complex drilling and coring programs; the second, to develop technologies needed to safely and efficiently find, characterize, and recover methane from hydrates through field testing, numerical simulation, and laboratory experimentation; and the third, to better understand gas hydrate’s role in the natural environment.

To better characterize the volume, stability, and viability of producing hydrates as a transformational hydrocarbon resource, research thrusts include:

  • Completing fundamental resource characterization and assessment activities in the Gulf of Mexico and the Alaskan Arctic;
  • Evaluating and demonstrating gas hydrate exploration and production technologies;
  • Collaborating with international partners to complete gas hydrate production modeling for international field development opportunities.

Find a full list of the current active projects in the Gas Hydrates program: 

NETL implements this effort as part of DOE’s Oil & Gas Program.
Methane Hydrates (422.96 KB)

Technology area contact:
Joseph Stoffa