DOE Announces Successful Production of Methane Hydrates


Researchers from the Department of Energy (DOE), ConocoPhillips, and Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (Japan’s state-owned oil company) announced the nearly month-long production of natural gas from methane hydrates on Tuesday, May 2. Production occurred beneath Alaska’s North Slope and shattered the previous methane hydrates production record of six days in 2007-2008.

Methane hydrates are ice-like structures that contain natural gas. They are found in cold, high-pressure environments onshore in permafrost and offshore in the continental shelf. Experts believe that there is more natural gas locked away in methane hydrates than in all oil and gas reserves known to exist around the globe.

To produce the methane hydrates, the research team pumped CO2 and nitrogen into methane hydrate formations which forced out the natural gas and trapped the CO2. The benefit of this technique is that useful natural gas is produced while locking away the most prolific greenhouse gas thereby preventing climate impacts. 

Though the production was successful, the researchers cautioned that this technique and methane hydrates production commercially is still a ways from coming to fruition. The issue of producing natural gas from hydrates still hinges on whether it can be accomplished in a cost-effective manner, which according to Secretary Chu, will still take further research and development. To that end, Secretary Chu said that $6.5 million for further research will be made available this year and the Department will request $5 million next year to continue their work.

If you have any questions on this article, please contact Scott Morrison of APGA’s staff by phone at 202-464-2742 or by email at smorrison@apga.org.  

 


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