DOE/NETL Methane Hydrate Projects
Planning of a Marine Methane Hydrate Pressure Coring Program for the Walker Ridge and Green Canyon Areas of the Gulf of Mexico Last Reviewed 6/30/2015


The primary goal of this research is to develop scientific, operational, and logistical plans for a future methane hydrate-focused offshore coring program, including a scope of work, technical specifications, and schedule and budget estimate needed to implement a marine expedition.

Fugro GeoConsulting, Inc., Houston TX

Aumann and Associates, Salt Lake City UT
GeoTek, United Kingdom
West Virginia University, Morgantown WV
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge MA

Prior research efforts undertaken in numerous countries, including the United States, have made significant progress and have focused on offshore drilling campaigns whose goals have included direct sampling and testing of methane hydrates. Several such campaigns have been undertaken in the United States including, most recently, the DOE-supported and Chevron-led Gulf of Mexico Joint Industry Project (JIP) Leg I (2005) and Leg II (2009).

The JIP Leg II campaign was specifically conceived to investigate the nature of hydrate occurrences in sand-dominated systems, principally by means of logging-while-drilling operations. The campaign confirmed the presence of gas hydrate reservoirs at boreholes in both Green Canyon Block 955 (GC955) and Walker Ridge 313 (WR313) in the Gulf of Mexico. The locations for the two wells were selected utilizing prospectivity analysis based primarily on 3-D exploration seismic data. The success of the two wells was a significant achievement and legitimized the conceptual approach taken to prospect for potential methane hydrate reservoirs in deep water. Conclusions drawn from the 2009 JIP Leg II program included recommendations to perform additional research drilling programs to further delineate the potential hydrate resource through the use of pressure coring and pressure core analysis systems.

The overall focus of this project is to help enable—through detailed scientific and operational planning—the future collection of methane hydrate pressure cores, which will add to the body of scientific knowledge of the characteristics of in situ methane hydrate occurrences and contribute to scientific and engineering efforts to assess potential exploitation of methane hydrates as an energy resource.

The project will consist of a study resulting in the preparation of detailed plans and recommendations for all aspects of a future offshore hydrate-focused research campaign.

The project will help guide and enable future field-based collection of hydrate data through the completion of detailed logistical, scientific, technical, and operational plans. These plans will facilitate the conduct of future marine hydrate research expeditions, which represent a critical path to collecting the data needed to characterize the occurrence and behavior of oceanic hydrates and, ultimately, assess their feasibility as a potential future energy resource.


  • Initiated development of content to be included in the projects primary deliverable (conceptual operational plan for a hydrate focused site characterization program) including incorporation of lessons learned from previous hydrate research expeditions.
  • Conducted multiple content development sessions with project collaborators at GeoTek, USGS, Aumann and Associates.
  • Completed development of project execution plan for a field expedition that will help identify critical information for operational and logistical plans and which provides a mechanism to include lessons learned from recent marine hydrate research expeditions.
  • Conducted an internal project workshop (May 2014), focused on developing the key structure of operational and logistical plans under the project.
  • Established initial plans for a peer review workshop with a wider group of hydrate research experts.

Current Status (June 2015)
Researchers have developed a baseline approach for how to best define research expedition needs, which led to a project execution plan used in conjunction with an internal workshop (with drilling, logging, and hydrate research experts) to develop research expedition/coring program concepts. The resultant coring program concepts are being developed by subject matter experts with significant experience in each area. This content is then being rolled into the projects primary deliverable which is a operational/logistical plan for a conceptual gas hydrate focused research expedition to include guidance based on lessons learned from past hydrate expeditions. A draft of this report is expected to be completed in late Summer 2015 with final release of the report to follow in the fall.

Project Start: October 1, 2012
Project End: September 30, 2016

Project Cost Information:
Planned Total Funding: $578,850
DOE Contribution: $463,080
Cost Share Contribution: $115,770

Contact Information:
NETL – Richard Baker ( or 304-285-4714)
Fugro GeoConsulting Inc. – Gary Humphrey (

Additional Information:

Quarterly Research Performance Progress Report [PDF-1.10MB] April - June, 2015 

Quarterly Research Performance Progress Report [PDF-828KB] January - March, 2015

Quarterly Research Performance Progress Report [PDF-427KB] October - December, 2014

Quarterly Research Performance Progress Report [PDF-780KB] July - September, 2014

Quarterly Research Performance Progress Report [PDF-879KB] April - June, 2014

Quarterly Research Performance Progress Report [PDF-493KB] January - March, 2014

Quarterly Research Performance Progress Report [PDF-183KB] April - June, 2013

Quarterly Research Performance Progress Report [PDF-175KB] January - March, 2013

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