DOE/NETL Methane Hydrate Projects
Numerical Studies for the Characterization of Recoverable Resources from Methane Hydrate Deposits Last Reviewed December 2017


Project Goal
The overall objective of this project is to conduct numerically-based studies to characterize and analyze recoverable resources from gas hydrate deposits, evaluate appropriate production strategies for both permafrost and marine environments, and analyze the geomechanical behavior of hydrate-bearing sediments, as well as provide support for DOE’s hydrate-related activities and collaborative projects.

Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (LBNL), Berkeley, CA 94720: model modifications and runs; project management

TOUGH+/HYDRATE (pT+H) is a code developed by LBNL that simulates the behavior of hydrate-bearing geologic systems. By solving coupled equations of mass and heat balance, pT+H can model the non-isothermal gas release, phase behavior, and flow of fluids and heat under conditions typical of common natural methane (CH4) hydrate-bearing deposits in complex formations. TOUGH+/HYDRATE includes both an equilibrium and kinetic model of hydrate formation and dissociation. The model accounts for heat and up to four mass components, i.e., water, CH4, hydrate, and water-soluble inhibitors such as salts or alcohols portioned among four possible phases (gas phase, liquid phase, ice phase, and hydrate phase) and up to five components (heat, hydrate, water, CH4, and water-soluble inhibitors). Hydrate dissociation or formation, phase changes, and the corresponding thermal effects are fully described, as are the effects of inhibitors. The model can describe all possible hydrate dissociation mechanisms, i.e., depressurization, thermal stimulation, salting-out effects, and inhibitor-induced effects. Under this project, LBNL is developing and maintaining pT+H as well as actively using the program to predict the behavior of hydrates and hydrate-bearing geologic systems in the laboratory or field, and from pore to regional scale.

Potential Impact
These numerical modeling efforts will allow hydrate scientists to better assess, identify, and predict the behavior of hydrate-bearing sediments under natural- and hydrate-production conditions for various hydrate occurrences in both Arctic and deepwater marine environments. The efforts will contribute to the planning and assessment of hydrate program field tests, and continue to define the feasibility of hydrates as an energy resource.


Budget Period 6 (April 2017 – July 2018)

  • Completed simulations of several India NGHP Site 9 production scenarios with and without coupled geomechanics and examined the fate of hydrate reservoirs after the cessation of production, which resulted in two conference papers.
  • Generated new meshes for continuing simulations of NGHP Site 9 using new geologic models developed in consultation with NETL, USGS, and Indian scientists.
  • LBNL team has initiated participation in the new International Code Comparison study of gas hydrate simulators with a focus on the study of coupled flow, thermal, and geomechanical processes. 

Budget Period 5 (May 2016 – June 2017)

  • Completed initial simulations of long term production test at Indian Hydrates site 9.
  • Completed initial model development and simulations of offshore Indian Hydrates site 9 including base cases, parametric sensitivity studies, heterogeneous systems, and varying layer configurations. Results were presented to DOE and Indian National Gas Hydrate Program (NGHP) representatives at a meeting in December 2016.
  • Developed and tested non-Darcian flow capabilities combining the capabilities of TOUGH +Real Gas Brine code with TOUGH+ Hydrate.
  • Completed simulations of long term fate of hydrate reservoirs following cessation of hydrate production. Results are being processed.

Budget Period 4 (August 2015 – July 2016)

  • Concluded simulations describing gas production using slanted wells in homogeneous/heterogeneous hydrate deposits with emphasis on alternating sand-clay lenses.
  • Completed preliminary investigation into production potential and geomechanical behavior of recently discovered offshore gas hydrate deposits in the Bay of Bengal, India.
  • Incorporated improvements to the T+M coupled flow-thermal-geomechanical code to include parallelization of ROCHMEC component, new matrix solver, and new grid creation capabilities.
  • Completed a new series of 10 highly heterogeneous realizations of system properties as part of coupled flow geomechanical simulations describing the short term gas hydrate production field test planned by the Korean hydrate program in the Ulleung Basin, offshore Korea (using the new V1.5 T+H and T+M codes).

Budget Period 3 (June 2014 – July 2015)

  • Completed a design package on the revised evaluation of production from Korean hydrates, accounting for both flow and geomechanical issues, and delivered the assessment to the Korea Institute of Geosciences and Minerals (KIGAM).
  • Completed incorporation of parallel solvers into the pT+H code, with a new version (V 1.5) released in September 2014.
  • Completed simulations of coupled flow and geomechanics describing a short-term field test of gas production from hydrate for the Ulleung basin, Korea.

Budget Period 2 (June 2013 – June 2014)

  • Completed initial analysis and history matching efforts of the depressurization phase of the 2012 ConocoPhillips Ignik Sikumi gas hydrate production test.
  • Completion of simulations on the effectiveness of slanted wells in production of gas from highly stratified hydrate deposits and analysis of results.
  • Completed a study of production from a large-scale extremely heterogeneous reservoir in contact with large aquifers in the Gulf of Mexico (GoM) using both horizontal and vertical wells (paper currently in press in Transport in Porous Media)
  • Completed the simulation analysis of coupled flow, thermal, and geomechanical system response during gas production for sites in the GoM (GC955 and WR313) expanding on a prior Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) paper
  • Addition of capabilities to TOUGH + HYDRATE code that enable tracking of properties, conditions, and flows throughout the simulation
  • Completed incorporating a new package of parallel solvers (PETC Package) into the Unicode version of TOUGH + HYDRATE (uT+H).
  • Completed the simulation analysis of coupled flow, thermal, and geomechanical system response during gas production from a well representative of PBU L106 well (Alaska North Slope) using both horizontal and vertical wells (submitted for publication toSPE Journal)
  • In cooperation with the KIGAM, completed simulations in support of planning for a 2014 short-term production field test in the Ulleung Basin of the Korean East Sea including a base case, three different depressurization rates, sensitivity analyses on multiple parameters, and a fully coupled flow and geomechanics study. Results presented in a paper at OTC 2014. An expanded version of the OTC paper is under review for publication in SPE Journal of the Society of Petroleum Engineers.

Budget Period 1 (June 2012 – May 2013)

  • Developed a working prototype of uT+H.
  • Publicly released new versions of both the serial and the parallel TOUGH+HYDRATE codes (with improved thermodynamics and thermophysical properties, and new control and output capabilities)
  • Completed two collaborative studies (with KIGAM, Korea) on the production potential, and corresponding geomechanical system behavior, of Korean marine hydrates in the Ulleung Basin (two related papers published or in review)
  • Developed and tested a two-way, fully-coupled flow-thermal-geomechanical simulator (involving TOUGH+HYDRATE and ROCMECH)
  • Published two papers on coupled flow-thermal-geomechanical processes in producing hydrate systems
  • Completed the largest numerical study ever conducted on the evaluation of the behavior of marine hydrate deposits
  • Completed studies on gas recoverability from the PBU-L106 site in Alaska
  • Published a chapter in Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts on the status of gas production from hydrates.

For accomplishments from past, related efforts, please see the project page for FWP G308.

TOUGH+/Hydrate is available to commercial and non-commercial users from LBNL [external site]. Non-commercial licenses are available to academic and research institutions at reduced cost and free of charge for users working on U.S. government-sponsored research projects. Details on licensing and associated licensing costs can be found on the TOUGH+ licensing site [external].

Current Status (December 2017)
Activities under Budget Period 6 of the project have initiated with renewed modeling efforts focused on Indian Offshore Hydrate Site 9. The new simulations have incorporated key reservoir information/parameters within the model based on data from pressure core characterization of NGHP–02 cores from the Site 9 location to more realistically capture the reservoir conditions. Currently, the researchers are attempting to overcome issues experienced with a high number of time steps in the simulations resulting from the non-linearity of Site 9 conditions. Simulations and sensitivity variations are expected to be completed by end of January 2018. Other Budget Period 6 activities have recently initiated and include simulations focused on assessing the differences in production potential of layered (coarse/fine grained) hydrate systems using vertical and horizontal production wells, as well as refinement of the meshing capabilities and the incorporation of the STONE geomechanical code into the T+H code system and using these enhanced capabilities in ongoing simulation efforts.

Project Start: April 1, 2012
Project End: June 30, 2018

Project Cost Information:
DOE Contribution: $1,250,000; Recipient Contribution: $0

Contact Information:
NETL – Richard Baker (
LBNL – George Moridis (

Additional Information

Research Performance Progress Report [PDF] October - December, 2017

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

Research Performance Progress Report [PDF] April - June, 2017

Research Performance Progress Report [PDF] June, 2013 - May, 2014

Research Performance Progress Report [PDF] April - December, 2012