DOE/NETL Methane Hydrate Projects
Alaska Natural Gas Hydrate Production Testing: Test Site Selection, Characterization, and Testing Operations Last Reviewed December 2017


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.

Potential Impacts
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 co-hosted a test site review and production well test design meetings.
  • USGS has provided technical information and reviews of the 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 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 efforts through the provision of reservoir model input information from other production testing efforts.
  • USGS has made a preliminary designation, in collaboration with DOE and Japan Oil Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC), of a preferred location within the west end of Prudhoe Bay (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 initiated efforts to identify additional sites for potential gas hydrate production testing in the unitized lands overlying the PBU and Milne Point (MPU) oil fields.
  • USGS acquired access to critical industry 3D seismic data volumes that extend onto the state of Alaska lands along the eastern edge of the MPU.
  • 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 (December 2017)
USGS continues to contribute to the planning effort in support of the DOE-JOGMEC-USGS sponsored gas hydrate production test well program on the ANS. USGS activity going forward will focus on further characterizing the PBU Kuparuk 7-11-12 test site and contributing to the design and planning of a potential gas hydrate test well program. USGS emphasis will be on conducting (in partnership with DOE and JOGMEC) a geophysical review of a newly provided reprocessed 3D seismic data suite for the area, and the development of an extensive well instrumentation and monitoring program that will be a critical element of any long term test.

The USGS will continue to provide technical and scientific leadership and advice for formulation of research drilling and production testing program designed to assess the nature and production potential of gas hydrates on the ANS. If the potential production test effort progresses, USGS plans to provide personnel and resources to help conduct field and laboratory analyses of material recovered from conventional and pressure coring and to partner in the synthesis of data from logging, direct sampling and geophysical/geological characterization studies.

Project Start: September 1, 2014
Project End: December 31, 2018

Project Cost Information:
Planned Total Funding: $144,172

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, 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