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Alaska Natural Gas Hydrate Production Testing: Test Site Selection, Characterization, and Testing Operations
Project Number
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The primary goal of this project is to provide geologic and geophysical technical support to identify and characterize gas hydrate production test sites on the Alaska North Slope.


U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) – Denver, CO


This Interagency Agreement is intended to support the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and its research partners in understanding, predicting, and testing the recoverability and potential production characteristics of onshore natural gas hydrate in the Greater Prudhoe Bay area on the Alaska North Slope (ANS) (Prudhoe Bay, Kuparuk River, and Milne Point areas) — or other areas deemed suitable by DOE and USGS — for potential long-term production testing of gas hydrate. Researchers will accomplish these tasks by evaluating the occurrence and resource potential of the known gas hydrate accumulations in the Eileen trend. Recently acquired geologic, geochemical, and geophysical (2-D and 3-D seismic surveys) data from northern Alaska and other new data sources, including wireline and mud log surveys of wells of opportunity, will be used to assess the occurrence and nature of the known gas hydrate accumulations.

The project involves two primary areas of effort: the geologic and engineering assessment of the Eileen gas-hydrate accumulation, and support of DOE and its industry partners in evaluating, planning, and preparing for drilling and testing gas hydrate research wells in northern Alaska.


This project represents a collaborative approach by DOE and USGS to best use the talents of each organization to address critical issues pertaining to gas hydrate science. USGS will support the federal Gas Hydrate program goals for assessing the technical and economic viability of producing natural gas from methane hydrate by evaluating and facilitating opportunities for production testing in the natural laboratory of the ANS.

Accomplishments (most recent listed first)
  • USGS has worked with DOE and Japan Oil, Gas, and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC) to develop an integrated Operator “Statement of Requirements” for the proposed Stratigraphic Test Well (STW), currently planned to initiate in December 2018, which will systematically review “operational and engineering requirements.”
  • USGS has led planning efforts for the deployment of the Halliburton CoreVault system to acquire sidewall pressure cores from the primary and secondary reservoirs targeted at the Prudhoe Bay Unit (PBU) 07-11-12 test site.
  • USGS has worked with JOGMEC and various service providers to develop the distributed temperature sensing (DTS) and distributed acoustic sensing (DAS) fiber optic monitoring program for the STW, including the acquisition of a high-resolution vertical seismic profile (VSP) after completion of the well in late February 2019.
  • USGS has worked with DOE and JOGMEC to develop a detailed long-term production test “base plan,” as well as planning documents for that base plan, including 1) updated project prospectus, 2) comprehensive outline of test data acquisition requirements, and 3) a depressurization well test plan and test well intervention plan.
  • USGS has provided technical information and reviews of specific components of the potential future drilling and production testing program including, drilling operations, analysis of physical properties of conventional and pressure cores, planning for post-field testing of cores, core flow, and downhole logging and coring plans.
  • USGS co-hosted test site review and production well test design meetings, including the February 2018 meeting of the DOE-USGS-JOGMEC R&D committee.
  • USGS hosted a kick-off meeting for a project screening study to be conducted in collaboration with PBU operators designed to assess feasibility of conducting the long-term production test at the PBU 7-11-12 site.
  • USGS has continued to support and lead geologic research efforts associated with the characterization of potential long term gas hydrate production test sites, with a recent focus around characterizing gas hydrate occurrence at the PBU 7-11-12 location.
  • USGS has supported DOE-led hydrate production modeling through the provision of geologic and engineering input data and assumptions needed to build accurate reservoir production models for the Unit B and D targeted reservoirs at the PBU 7-11-12 test site.
  • USGS has made a designation, in collaboration with DOE and JOGMEC, of a preferred location within the west end of PBU (Kuparuk 7-11-12) which includes known gas hydrate occurrence, existing infrastructure, and no ongoing industry activity and has participated in the detailed characterization of that site.
  • USGS co-hosted a workshop (June 2016) in Anchorage AK, focused on the assessment of the recommended PBU Kuparuk 7-11-12 hydrate production test.
  • USGS has participated, along with DOE, JOGMEC, and various industry partners, in development of an ANS test well engineering and operational plan for a gas hydrate production test at the Kuparuk 7-11-12 location that includes drilling of a stratigraphic evaluation well followed by a production test site including surface monitoring, instrumented monitoring wells, and a production well.
  • USGS has completed remapping of the Eileen gas hydrate trend in the greater PBU area, which has provided critical new insight into the occurrence of gas hydrate on the ANS and detailed understanding of the reservoir parameters needed to understand the production response of the gas hydrates.
  • USGS has hosted, facilitated, or participated in multiple meetings with JOGMEC and DOE for evaluating potential hydrate production test locations, both in lands set aside by the Alaska Department of Natural Resources for hydrate-related research and unitized properties within the PBU and MPU Operating Units.
  • USGS has conducted evaluation of geologic, geophysical, and reservoir engineering data (from data sources available to them) in coordination with similar work being carried out by JOGMEC, in an effort to characterize gas hydrates along the Eileen trend in the greater PBU area and to help assess potential locations to undergo stratigraphic testing as a precursor to selecting a site for a long term production test on the ANS.
Current Status

It now appears realtively certain that the planned STW phase at the PBU Kuparuk 7-11-12 site will be conducted during December 2018. USGS has and will continue to help lead technical efforts for the conduct of those operations; provide personnel and resources to conduct field and laboratory analyses of material recovered by conventional and pressure core systems during the STW; and partner in the synthesis of data from logging, direct sampling, and geophysical/geologic characterization studies from the STW. That well will be the initial field phase leading to a proposed long-term hydrate production test. Following the STW, USGS will continue to provide technical and scientific leadership for the formulation of the long-term research drilling and production testing program designed to assess the production potential of hydrates on the ANS.

Project Start
Project End
DOE Contribution

Planned Total Funding: $230,700

Contact Information

NETL Project Manager – Richard Baker ( or 304-285-4714)
USGS Principal Investigator – Tim Collett (

Additional Information

Research Performance Progress Report [PDF] July - September, 2018

Research Performance Progress Report [PDF] July - September, 2017

Research Performance Progress Report [PDF] April - September, 2016

Research Performance Progress Report [PDF] October, 2015 - March, 2016

Research Performance Progress Report [PDF] July - September, 2015

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