FWP-G308 and ESD00-021

Numerical Studies for the Characterization of Recoverable Resources from Methane Hydrate Deposits


Last Reviewed 5/15/2012

Project Goal

The objective of this project is to develop and maintain reservoir and geomechanical models that simulate the behavior of hydrate-bearing geologic systems and evaluate appropriate hydrate production strategies for both permafrost and marine environments, including thermal stimulation, depressurization, and dissociation induced and/or enhanced by inhibitors.


Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, 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 in studies to predict the behavior of hydrates and hydrate-bearing geologic systems in the laboratory or field, and from the pore to regional scale.

Potential Impact of this research

TOUGH+/Hydrate is designed exclusively to model hydrate reservoir behavior and production potential. This allows users to more accurately predict the behavior of hydrates and hydrate-bearing geologic systems in the laboratory or field, and from the pore to regional scale. The model simulates both kinetic and equilibrium hydrate formation and dissociation and uses state-of-the-art underlying principles, physics, and thermodynamics.

This model will allow commercial operators to assess, identify, and predict reservoir performance/production for various prospects and provide data for detailed economic assessment of potential plays. The model will also help operators identify uncertainties and risks for a particular prospect or project.


  • Release of TOUGH Fx / Hydrate, spring 2005. This simulator replaces capabilities for performing simulations previously conducted on the EOSHYDR module for TOUGH2.
  • LBNL made pT+H available for commercial and non-commercial users.
  • Completed development and publicly released a parallel version of the pT+H code and incorporated it in LBNL hydrate studies.
  • Completed simulation and history match results from Modular Dynamic Testing performed on the Mt. Elbert Well in Alaska.
  • Completed efforts to evaluate gas production potential of the Mt. Elbert hydrate deposit and other North Slope accumulations.
  • Conducted a three-day training session on TOUGH+HYDRATE for potential users and developed a web-based application for preparation of pT+H simulation input files.
  • Continued to prepare and submit multiple journal papers each year for publication in various scientific/ technical venues and presented project results at multiple major scientific/technical conferences.
  • Coupled pT+H with iTOUGH2 code for automatic history matching and parameter estimation.
  • Coupled Tough+/Hydrate code with the commercial program FLAC 3D to allow simulation of geomechanical behavior associated with hydrate-bearing media.
  • Completed participation in the first phase of the NETL hydrate code comparison study.
  • Continued to develop and complete assessments of recoverability from hydrate deposits in both marine and arctic environments for various geologic classes of hydrate occurrence including evaluative simulations of potential long term hydrate production test field site locations.
  • Completed multiple predictive studies of geomechanical behavior for hydrate-bearing sediment and of the corresponding geophysical signature.
  • Completed simulations evaluating the potential feasibility of using geophysical surveys to monitor gas hydrate production.
  • Hosted US-Korea Gas Hydrate Workshop, paving the way for potential international hydrate research collaborations.
  • Completed preliminary simulation evaluating production potential of challenging oceanic hydrate deposits (absence of confining boundaries, high thermodynamic stability, low temperatures, and low permeability)

TOUGH+/Hydrate is available from LBNL[external site] for commercial and non-commercial users. Non-commercial licenses are available at reduced cost to academic and research institutions, and free of charge for use on U.S. Government-sponsored research projects. Details on licensing and associated licensing costs can be found at the TOUGH+ licensing site [external]. For more information on TOUGH+/Hydrate or the freeware version, HydrateResSim please see the “Additional Information” section below.

Predictions of long-term production for the JAPEX/JNOC/GSC et al. Mallik 5L-38 gas hydrate production research well (from Moridis et al. March 2005)

Current Status (May 2012)Activity under the this FWP is complete. Documentation of the results of the effort can be found in the many papers published on project results which are cited in the Methane Hydrate Program Projects Reports Bibliography. New work in this research area at LBNL is now ongoing under ESD12-010.

Project Start: June 30, 2000
Project End: December 31, 2012

Project Cost Information:
DOE Contribution - $2,718,000 ; Recipient Contribution - $0

Contact Information:
NETL – Richard Baker (Richard.Baker@netl.doe.gov or 304-285-4714)
LBNL – George Moridis (gjmoridis@lbl.gov or 510-486-4746)

Additional Information:
In addition to the information provided here, a full listing of project related publications and presentations as well as a listing of funded students can be found in the Methane Hydrate Program Bibliography [PDF].

Additional LBNL hydrate-related publications can also be found on the LBNL Gas Hydrate Publications webpage.

FY2009 Year-end Report [PDF-271KB] - Report for the period November 1, 2008 - December 31, 2010

Large-Scale Simulation of Oceanic Gas Hydrate Dissociation in Response to Climate Change [PDF-355KB] Matthew T. Reagan, George J. Moridis, and Keni Zhang. Presented at the LBNL TOUGH Symposium, Sept 14-16, 2009.

Evaluation of the Gas Production Potential of Challenging Hydrate Deposits [PDF-541KB] George J. Moridis, Matthew T. Reagan, Katie L. Boyle, and Keni Zhang. Presented at the LBNL TOUGH Symposium, Sept 14-16, 2009.

2009 Progress Report through September, 2009 [PDF-260KB]

Licensing information for TOUGH+/HYDRATE and PetraSim, a pre/post processor for use with the model.

Freeware version of TOUGH+/Hydrate, called HydrateResSim and the associated User’s Manual

Topical Report - Numerical Studies of Gas Production from Several CH4-Hydrate Zones at the Mallik Site [PDF-185KB]