DOE/NETL Methane Hydrate Projects
Support for Methane Hydrate Research on the Alaska North Slope Last Reviewed June 2017


The objective of this contract between the Department of Energy (DOE) and Petrotechnical Resources of Alaska (PRA) is to provide specific planning, analytical, arctic engineering, and environmental services associated with the potential drilling of methane hydrate stratigraphic test well(s) and a long-term methane hydrate production test well on the North Slope of Alaska.

Petrotechnical Resources of Alaska

This project is being conducted in order to support activities described in a DOE memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (ADNR) and a DOE National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) MoU with the Japan Oil, Gas and Metals Corporation (JOGMEC). On April 16, 2013, the ADNR and the DOE Office of Fossil Energy (FE) signed a MoU to enable cooperation and collaboration between the ADNR and the DOE/FE regarding energy development and unconventional resource research and demonstration on the Alaska North Slope (ANS). As an initial action, ADNR took an unprecedented step of withholding from their 2013 lease sale 11 leases proximal to Prudhoe Bay Unit (PBU) and Milne Point Unit (MPU) areas until DOE could assess the set aside land’s suitability for gas hydrate research. ADNR’s expectation was that DOE would facilitate the development of a feasible project structure with interested parties. On November 6, 2014, JOGMEC and NETL signed a MoU under which the parties agreed to establish a cooperative working arrangement in the area of gas hydrate production testing on the ANS. The work to be performed under this MoU includes, as a first step, the geologic review of gas hydrate occurrences within the area of the ADNR set-aside acreage on ANS and within leased lands within the PBU and MPU field areas. These efforts will result in the characterization and ranking of sites with regard to their potential for gas hydrate production testing. The current highest rank gas hydrate prospect site is the PBU 7-11-12 pad within industry infrastructure. The MoU enables DOE/FE to leverage the substantial financial contributions which JOGMEC intends to dedicate for ANS hydrate production testing through this partnership. Pursuant to the MoU, in January 2015, JOGMEC released a solicitation seeking award of a contract for the planning and drilling of methane hydrate stratigraphic test wells on the land set aside by the ADNR, a project to be performed in collaboration with NETL/DOE. In April 2015, PRA, an Alaskan technical services company, was awarded a contract with JOGMEC based on its technical capabilities to perform the work. (reference information: To further the project, NETL awarded a separate contract to PRA for performance of additional activities associated with the DOE/JOGMEC MoU.

The scope of work for this effort involves the development of viable plans using arctic construction, petroleum, facility, and drilling engineering design necessary to successfully accomplish ANS gas hydrate stratigraphic test well(s) drilling operations and production testing. These studies will also help develop estimated cost for efforts associated with this work. The project includes support for required remote site environmental permitting and associated field activities necessary for the permitting of the stratigraphic test well(s), along with the development of comprehensive plans and associated costs for drilling and data acquisition of one (1) to three (3) stratigraphic test wells, and a long-term methane hydrate production test well to follow in the success case.

This collaboration will benefit the DOE Gas Hydrate program, which is part of the Natural Gas and Oil Program, by significantly leveraging the JOGMEC-funded activities; and providing DOE with evaluation of the costs and logistics associated with potential ANS gas hydrate R&D.

PRA completed a Basic Operations Plan for a gas hydrate field long-term production test on the Alaska North Slope.

During the late summer of 2015, PRA contractors conducted fieldwork surveys at ANS candidate sites for the stratigraphic test well(s) within the State of Alaska (SOA) set aside leases. Contractors completed general reconnaissance via helicopter of potential routes and stream crossings. The team also conducted an evaluation of the existing gravel at the PBU Eileen pad. A lake studies team evaluated several lakes in the region for their potential to provide water for ice roads and operations activities.

Current Status (June 2017)
Scientists and engineers at PRA are currently developing detailed operations plans for the drilling of an ANS stratigraphic test well(s) and a long-term gas hydrate production test well. The plans include a potential partnership with the Prudhoe Bay Unit Working Interest Owners to drill and test methane hydrates at the Kuparuk 7-11-12 Site, within the Prudhoe Bay Unit. Project participants are currently awaiting a decision by the Working Interest Owners regarding their interest in the partnership.

Project Start: August 7, 2015
Project End: June 30, 2017

DOE Contribution: $1,146,132
Performer Contribution: NA

Contact Information:
NETL – Skip Pratt ( or 304-285-4396)
PRA – Robert Hunter ( or 907-272-1232)