Advanced Simulation and Experiments of Strongly Couple Geomechanics and Flow for Gas Hydrate Deposits: Validation and Field Application Last Reviewed December 2017


The objective of the proposed research is to investigate geomechanical responses induced by depressurization on gas hydrate bearing reservoirs, both in marine and permafrost-associated settings, through integrated experimental and numerical simulation studies. Numerical evaluation of two well-characterized sites will be performed: one based on the deposits observed at the Ulleung basin UBGH2-6 site; and the other based from the West End Prudhoe Bay.

Texas A&M University, College Station, TX
The Korean Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources (KIGAM), Daejeon, South Korea.
The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA (through associated Field Work Proposal FWP-00003997)

While all gas hydrate numerical simulation remains in an early stage due to limited available field data for validation and calibration, the ability to numerically simulate the thermodynamic and hydraulic response of gas hydrate reservoirs to depressurization-based production is relatively well-advanced. However, the unconsolidated nature and potential high pressure drawdowns required indicate that any effort to predict reservoir performance must incorporate geomechanical phenomena as well.

This project will feature a collaboration with the Korean Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources (KIGAM). KIGAM has constructed world-class, multi-scale reactors and has performed extensive experimental studies on the geomechanical phenomena in gas hydrate bearing sediments. These prior findings will be further evaluated at KIGAM and tested by new experimental studies at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and Texas A&M (TAMU) that are designed capture complex coupled physical processes between flow and geomechanics, such as sand production, capillarity, and formation of secondary hydrates.

The project will develop an advanced coupled geomechanics and non-isothermal flow simulator to better account for potential large deformations and strong capillarity. This new code will be validated using data from the literature, from previous work by the project team, and with the results of newly conducted experimental studies. The developed simulator will be available for future planning of gas hydrate production tests, and will be valuable in the determination of well designs and test procedures, and test result evaluation.

Accomplishments (most recent listed first)

  • Completed the development of a coupled flow and geomechanics simulator for large deformation and have begun testing the system against lab data.
  • Researchers have begun to incorporate the initial suite of lab data into the numerical simulation models and continue to update constitutive relationships within the model based on experimental findings.
  • Completed experiments to investigate hysteresis in hydrate stability (studying the memory effect of hydrate system).
  • Conducted initial TAMU lab experiments targeting geomechanical changes from effective stress during dissociation in small scale cell (a new larger cell is being developed, wherein experiments will be repeated).
  • KIGAM has completed assessment of prior experimental hydrate depressurization efforts on the cm and 1-m scale hydrate samples.
  • New mathematical formulations for theoretical treatment of capillary hysteresis have been shown to be mathematically sound and numerically stable.
  • New experimental systems have been developed at TAMU with the goal of studying secondary hydrate formation and capillary pressure changes during dissociation.

Current Status (May 2017)
The project initiated Phase 2 activities in October 2017 and the focus going forward includes: 1) evaluation of KIGAM experimental depressurization data from large scale (10-m) experiments, 2) shifting of TAMU experimental efforts (geomechanical changes from effective stress during dissociation) to a new larger scale experimental cell and will be set up to allow movement of sediment within the sample, 3) continued incorporation of experimental results into constitutive equations of coupled hydrate flow/geomechanics simulator and initiation modeling to capture induced changes from formation of secondary hydrate (frost-heave, strong capillarity, and induced fracturing), and 4) development of models for eventual use in field scale simulation based analysis of system behavior for hydrate systems at the PBU L-106 (onshore AK), and Ulleung Basin (offshore South Korea) areas.

Project Start: October 1, 2016
Project End: September 30, 2019

Project Cost Information
DOE Contribution: $731,415 (including funding to both TAMU and LBNL)
Performer Contribution: $733,832.00

Contact Information:
NETL – Richard Baker, Project Manager ( or 304-285-4714)
Texas A&M University – Dr. Jihoon Kim, Principal Investigator (

Additional Information:

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

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

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

Quarterly Research Performance Progress Report [PDF] January - March, 2017


Experimental setup for 1D 1-m scale GH production

Experimental setup for investigation of geomechanical changes from effective stress changes during dissociation