DOE/NETL Methane Hydrate Projects

Methane Hydrate Production from Alaskan Permafrost

DE-FC26-01NT41331

Last Reviewed 02/05/2010

photo of new Anadarko drilling rig in place at Hot Ice No.1 on Alaska's North Slope
Hot Ice No. 1 Drilling Platform 
courtesy Anadarko Petroleum Corp.

Project Goal

The goal of the project was to develop technologies for drilling and recovering hydrates in arctic areas. The specific objectives were to drill, core, and test a well through the hydrate stability zone in northern Alaska

Performers

Maurer Technology, Inc.* – Project   coordination with DOE
Anadarko Petroleum Corporation – Overall project management for the design, construction, and operation of the Arctic Drilling Platform and mobile core lab, and field coring operations
Noble Engineering and Development* – Real time data collection and transmission of digital data
University of Alaska – Support studies on geology, tundra, and water disposal
Lawrence Berkley National Lab (LBNL) – Perform reservoir modeling used for well test planning and onsite portable X-ray scanner with wellsite operator
Sandia National Lab - Provide downhole mud pressure & temperature recording tool
Pacific Northwest Nat’l. Lab (PNNL) – Provide portable infrared scanner
US Geological Survey (USGS)– Provide synthetic core for drilling tests, phase behavior model for hydrates, pressure vessels for hydrate core storage and technical advice 
Schlumberger Oilfield Services – Provide CMR equipment used in mobile core lab and onsite analysts Paulsson Geophysical Services – Possibly perform vertical seismic profiling

* Maurer Technology, Inc. and Noble Engineering and Development are subsidiaries of Noble Corporation.

Background

The Hot Ice well was drilled during the 2002-2003 and 2003-2004 winter drilling seasons, at a location approximately 20 miles south of the Kuparuk River Oil Field Center and about 40 miles southwest of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. The well was drilled as part of a 2-year, cost-shared partnership between NETL, Anadarko Petroleum Corp., Maurer Technology Inc., and Noble Engineering and Development. It was drilled to test an Upper West Sak potential hydrate accumulation, based on updip hydrate shows in nearby Cirque and Tarn wells.

The Hot Ice well was drilled to a total measured depth of 2300 feet. The base of permafrost was encountered at 1263 feet, and the Upper West Sak target interval was encountered from 1463-1540 feet, just one foot higher than anticipated. Although the Upper West Sak sands lie within the theoretical Hydrate Stability Zone, and they have very good reservoir quality, they did not contain any hydrate. Instead of hydrate, the project team encountered free gas and water in the target interval.

The project successfully developed and demonstrated for the first time a number of innovative technologies, including Anadarko’s Arctic Drilling Platform, a mobile hydrate core analysis laboratory, and a new application of a continuous coring rig. The research team also acquired a 3D Vertical Seismic Profile at the well, which resulted in very high resolution images of the subsurface, and possible indications of hydrate updip and east of the well site. Analyses of the core, log, and seismic data from the well indicate that the hydrate in this region occurs in patchy deposits and may require a high methane flux from the subsurface in order to form more continuous drilling prospects.

Project Impact

The information obtained from the Hot Ice well will be used to improve maps of the lateral extent of the hydrate occurrences in Alaska, which will in turn improve resource estimates for the hydrate resource in Alaska. The technology developed to drill, log, core, and image the hydrate reservoir will be used to develop these resources in the future.

Also, this project puts into practice for the first time, Anadarko's Arctic Drilling Platform, which is a zero-footprint approach to drilling that is perfect for environmentally sensitive locations like the North Slope of Alaska. Furthermore, this project brings us closer to developing hydrates as an energy resource. Bringing hydrates into the energy mix would lead to a tremendous increase in the nation’s domestic natural gas resource, which would have a favorable impact on the U.S. economy.

Accomplishments

  • Design and construction of Anadarko’s Mobile Core Analysis Laboratory
  • Installation and successful demonstration of Anadarko’s Arctic Platform
  • Successful continuous coring of research well
  • Successful acquisition of core and log data
  • Successful acquisition and analysis of high resolution VSP data
  • “Best 25 Papers” award at Society of Exploration Geophysicists meeting

photo of Hot Ice No. 1 with Arctic platform

Hot Ice No. 1 well location with Arctic Platform
  courtesy Anadarko Petroleum Corp.

The drilling of the Hot Ice No. 1 well marked the first test of Anadarko's Arctic Platform. The primary platform consists of 16 lightweight aluminum modules fitted together and mounted on steel legs 12 ft (3.7 m) above the ground surface. The platform is large enough to contain a coring rig, auxiliary equipment, mud tanks, and the mobile core analysis laboratory. Another 5 modules form an adjacent platform with living quarters for 40 people. The Arctic Platform design permits light and air to reach the tundra grass that is visible at a drill site during the summer months and the relatively small and shallow holes created by the legs can be filled when drilling is completed. This system eliminates the need for ice pads or gravel pads that have a more destructive impact on the tundra landscape, while extending the time during which drilling can take place. The system components are delivered to the well site by Rolligon all-terrain vehicles with tundra-safe tires. The platform modules are also light enough for transport via helicopter.

photo of mobile core lab
Interior of mobile core lab
 courtesy Anadarko Petroleum

Hot Ice No. 1 was cored with a wireline retrievable coring system using drilling mud that had been chilled to 23 °F (-5 °C) to preserve the 3.3-inch diameter (8.5 cm) core during the core's recovery. The mobile core laboratory was employed to immediately perform measurements on both the whole core and on one-inch plugs taken from the whole core, while maintaining that temperature. Whole core measurements included: core gamma log, infrared temperature, velocity measurement, geologic description and white light photographs, high resolution CT scan (equipment from LBNL), and a nuclear magnetic resonance measurement (CMR tool from Schlumberger) on a portion of each section of core. Plug measurements included: bulk volume, grain density, helium porosity and permeability at confining stress, P and S wave velocity, resistivity, and thermal conductivity. A Schlumberger CMR Tool was utilized to determine the fluid volume in the samples.

Current Status
All engineering and scientific results are included in the project’s Final Report.

Project Start: September 30, 2001
Project End: January 31, 2005

Anticipated DOE Contribution: $7,100,846
Performer Contribution: $7,018,815

Contact Information:
NETL – Frances Toro (frances.toro@netl.doe.gov or 304-285-4107)
Maurer Technology Inc. – Thomas Williams (twilliams@noblecorp.com or 281-276-6713)
Anadarko Petroleum Corp. – Bill Liddell (bill_liddell@anadarko.com or 832-636-8368)

Additional Information:
In addition to the information provided here, a full listing of project related publications and presentations as well as a listing of funded students can be found in the Methane Hydrate Program Bibliography [PDF].

Final Report - Methane Hydrate Production from Alaskan Permafrost [PDF- 14765KB]

Hot Ice #1 Log File - Hot_Ice_#1 [.zip file containg .las and .txt versions - 599KB]

Topical Report - Core and Fluids Analysis [PDF- 4910KB]

Topical Report - 3D Vertical Seismic Profile Survey [PDF- 27309KB]

Topical Report - Hydrate Reservoir Characterization and Modeling [PDF- 40780KB]

Topical Report - Drilling and Coring Operations [PDF- 5254KB]

Topical Report - Logging Operations [PDF- 3879KB]

Techline- Alaskan Well Targets Gas Hydrate, Produces Wealth of Information - March 2004

Alaska Hydrate Project Overview [PDF-891KB] - October 2003

Project Fact Sheet [PDF-42KB]

Progress Report [PDF-7025KB] - June 2003

Peer-Reviewed Publications
Circone, S., L. Stern, and S. Kirby, 2003, The Role of Water in Hydrate Dissociation, Journal of Physical Chemistry, Volume 108, n. 18, p. 5747-5755.

Millheim, K., J. Kwan, T. Williams, W. Maurer, W. MacDonald, A. Kadaster, T. Thompson, R. Sigal, D. Copeland, D. McGuire, S. Runyon, and B. Liddell, 2005, A project update of methane hydrate production from Alaskan permafrost, in Taylor, C. and J. Kwan, eds., Advances in the Studies of Gas Hydrates, New York, Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, p. 75-85.

Newsham, K., R. Sigal, and J. Kwan, 2005, An Application Used For Correcting Thermal Gradients Below Permafrost Using an Empirical Diffusion Model; Anadarko's Hot Ice #1 Gas Hydrates Case Study, in Taylor, C. and J. Kwan, eds., Advances in the Studies of Gas Hydrates, New York, Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, p. 59-72.

Sigal, R., C. Rai, C. Sondergeld, W. Ebanks, W. Zogg, N. Emery, G. McCardle, W. McLoed, R. Schweizer, and J. Van Eerde, in review, Characterization of potential hydrate bearing reservoirs in the Ugnu and West Sak formations of Alaska’s North Slope, in Collett, T., A. Johnson, C. Knapp and R. Boswell, eds., Natural Gas Hydrates: Energy Resource and Associated Geologic Hazards, The American Association of Petroleum Geologists Hedberg Special Publication.

Stern, L., S. Circone, S. Kirby, and W. Durham, 2001, Anomalous Preservation of Pure Methane Hydrate at 1 atm, Journal of Physical Chemistry, Volume 105, p. 1756-1762.

Stern, L., S. Circone, S. Kirby, and W. Durham, 2001, Reply to Comments on “Anomalous Preservation of Pure Methane Hydrate at 1 atm,” Journal of Physical Chemistry, Volume 106, n. 1, p. 228-230.

Stern, L., S. Circone, S. Kirby, and W. Durham, 2003, Temperature, Pressure, and Compositional Effects on Anomalous or “Self” Preservation of Gas Hydrates, Canadian Journal of Physics, Volume 81, p. 271-283.

Stern, L, S. Circone, S. Kirby, and W. Durham, 2002, New insights into the phenomenon of anomalous or “self” preservation of gas hydrate, Yokohama, Japan, Proceedings, Fourth International Conference on Gas Hydrates, May 19-23, p. 673-677.

Government Reports
Barker, C., 2003, Methane hydrate production form Alaskan permafrost – Coalbed Methane Studies at Hot Ice #1 Gas Hydrate Well, U.S. DOE Topical Report, Contract No. DE-FC26-01NT41331, 7 pp.

Cohen, J., and T. Williams, 2002, Hydrate Core Drilling Tests, Maurer Technology Topical Report, November.

Kadaster, A., B. Liddel, T. Thompson, T. Williams, and M. Nidermayr, 2005, Methane hydrate production form Alaskan permafrost – drilling and coring operations, U.S. DOE-NETL Topical Report, 258 pp., available online (click here - [PDF]).

Kirby, S., S. Circone, and L. Stern, 2003, Methane hydrate production form Alaskan permafrost – Dissociation Rates of Methane Hydrate at Elevated Pressures and of a Quartz Sand-Methane Hydrate Mixture at 0.1 MPa, U.S. DOE-NETL Topical Report, 26 pp.

Kleinberg, R., D. Griffin, and R. Sigal, 2004, Methane hydrate production form Alaskan permafrost – NMR measurements of permafrost: unfrozen water assay, growth habit of ice, and hydraulic permeability of sediments, U.S. DOE-NETL Topical Report, 26 pp.

McGuire, D., S. Runyon, R. Sigal, B. Liddel, T. Williams, and G. Moridis, 2005, Methane hydrate production form Alaskan permafrost – Hydrate reservoir characterization and modeling, U.S. DOE-NETL Topical Report, 20 pp., available online (click here - [PDF]).

McGuire, D., T. Williams, B. Paulsson, and A. Goertz, 2005, Methane hydrate production form Alaskan permafrost – 3D vertical seismic profile survey, U.S. DOE-NETL Topical Report, 30 pp., available online (click here - [PDF]).

Runyon, S., M. Globe, K. Newsham, R. Kleinberg, and D. Griffin, 2005, Methane hydrate production form Alaskan permafrost – logging operations, U.S. DOE-NETL Topical Report, 22 pp., available online (click here - [PDF]).

Sigal, R., K. Newsham, T. Williams, B. Friefeld, T. Kneafsey, C. Sondegard, S. Rai, J. Kwan, S. Kirby, R. Kleinberg, and D. Griffin, 2005, Methane hydrate production form Alaskan permafrost – core and fluid analysis, U.S. DOE-NETL Topical Report, 225 pp., available online (click here - [PDF]).

Sigal, R., 2004, Methane hydrate production form Alaskan permafrost – Hydrate reservoir characterization and modeling – X-ray and Density Log data from the Hot Ice #1 well, U.S. DOE-NETL Topical Report, 6 pp.

Williams, T., K. Millheim, and B. Liddel, 2005, Methane hydrate production form Alaskan permafrost, U.S. DOE-NETL Final Report, Contract No. DE-FC26-01NT41331, available online (click here - [PDF]).

Other Publications
Kirby, S., S. Circone, L. Stern, and J. Pinkston, 2004, Self-regulating effects of gas hydrate decomposition relevant to natural gas production models, U.S. DOE-NETL Fire in the Ice Newsletter, Summer.

Kirby, S., L. Stern, S. Circone, and J. Pinkston, 2004, Hydrate decomposition under scrutiny: U.S. DOE-NETL Fire in the Ice Newsletter, Winter.

Presentations
Barker, C., J. Clough, S. Roberts, A. Clark, and B. Fisk, 2003, Physical Limitations on Coalbed Gas Content of Low Rank Coals, North Slope, Alaska, An Apparent Widespread Depletion of Coalbed Gas in Permafrost, Billings, MT, 18th International Low-Rank Fuels Symposium, June 24-26.

Kadaster, A., K. Millheim, and T. Thompson, 2005, The Planning and Drilling of Hot Ice #1 – Gas Hydrate Exploration Well in the Alaskan Arctic, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, SPE/IADC Drilling Conference & Exhibition, February 23-25.

Kadaster, A., and K. Millheim, 2004, Onshore Mobile Platform: A Modular Platform for Drilling and Production Operations in Remote and Environmentally Sensitive Areas, Dallas, TX, IADC/SPE Drilling Conference, March 2-4.

McGuire, D., S. Runyon, T. Williams, B. Paulsson, A. Goertz, and M. Karrenbach, 2004, Gas Hydrate Exploration with 3D VSP Technology, North Slope, Alaska, Denver, CO, Society of Exploration Geophysicists 74th Annual Meeting, October 11-15.

McGuire, D., S. Runyon, T. Williams, and R. Sigal, 2004, Integration of VSP Seismic Data with Core and Well Log Data to Investigate Lateral Variations of Potential Hydrate-Bearing Sands, Alaska North Slope, Vancouver, BC, Canada, The American Association of Petroleum Geologists Hedberg Research Conference, September 12-16.

Millheim, K., J. Kwan, and B. Maurer, 2002, A Field Oriented Natural Gas Hydrate Research Project for the Alaska North Slope – Resource Evaluation and Possible Testing, Orlando, FL, 223rd American Chemical Society National Meeting, April 9.

Millheim, K., 2002, Methane Hydrate Production from Alaska Permafrost, Houston, TX, The American Association of Petroleum Geologists Hydrate Meeting, March 12.

Sigal, R., C. Rai, C. Sondergeld, W. Ebanks, W. Zogg, and R. Kleinberg, 2004, Characterization of Potential Hydrate Bearing Reservoirs in the Ugnu and West Sak Formations of Alaska’s North Slope, Vancouver, BC, Canada, The American Association of Petroleum Geologists Hedberg Research Conference, September 12-16.

Stern, L., S. Circone, S. Kirby, and W. Durham, 2002, New insights into the phenomenon of anomalous or “self” preservation of gas hydrates, Newfoundland, Canada, International Symposium on the Physics and Chemistry of Ice, July 14-19.

Williams, T., B. Liddell, A. Kadaster, and T. Thompson, 2004, Hot Ice Well No. 1 – Well Planning, Operations and Results of the First Dedicated Gas Hydrate Well in the Alaskan Arctic, Vancouver, BC, Canada, The American Association of Petroleum Geologists Hedberg Research Conference, September 12-16.

Williams, T., 2003, Methane Hydrate Production – Application of Arctic Hydrate Research to Deep Water, Houston, TX, American Association of Drilling Engineers, Deep Water Quarterly Forum, February 11.

 
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