Gas Hydrates – worth the wait!

11. October, 2013 News 8 comments

Conventional sources are expensive, polluting, or drying up. This gives rise to a growing demand for carbon free emission energy. Methane, being the cleanest of all hydrocarbon fuels, has undoubtedly brought gas-hydrates into a bigger picture. They are the largest source for hydrocarbons on the Earth. Methane/Gas hydrates are cage like crystalline substances consisting majorly of methane and water, and are found in the outer continental margins and permafrost regions.

Melting one cubic meter block of a gas hydrate can yield as high as 164 cubic meter of gaseous methane. Worldwide reserves are estimated to be 400-500 million trillion cubic feet. Even, exploitation of 15% from this gigantic reserve can meet the global energy requirement for about two centuries (Makogon et al., 2007). The current challenge is to inventory this resource and find safe, economical ways to develop it. The latest studies suggest large methane reservoirs beneath Antarctic ice sheet. Japan has enormous offshore deposits and has invested $60 million on research to have production on line by 2015. With investments as high as $50million, India is also looking into converting its offshore deposits . Germany, France, and Australia are following their steps in what could be tomorrow’s game changer in the industry.

To date there has been no large-scale commercial methane production from gas hydrate deposits. All of the production has either been small scale or experimental. In early 2012, a joint project between the United States and Japan produced a steady flow of methane by injecting carbon dioxide into the methane hydrate accumulation. The carbon dioxide replaced the methane in the hydrate structure and liberated the methane to flow to the surface. This test was significant because it allowed the production of methane without the instabilities associated with a melting gas hydrate.

The future of gas hydrates doesn’t lie in the reserve potential only, rather in  the amount of research, technology advancements, and policy framework that could shape its dependency, which looks very green and promising.



Photos: Huffington Post,

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Usman Syed Aslam

Currently pursuing Bachelor of Technology in Petroleum Engineering from Al Habeeb College of Engineering and Technology, affiliated to JNTU, Hyderabad, India. He aspires to be a reservoir engineer and work on projects located in isolated regions. Loves travelling around the world. His areas of interest include unconventional resources, geomechanics and reservoir modelling.

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