Processes for Methane Production from Gas Hydrates

Part of the Green Energy and Technology book series (GREEN)


Three processes have been proposed for dissociation of methane hydrates: thermal stimulation, depressurization, and inhibitor injection. The obvious production approaches involve depressurization, heating and their combinations. The depressurization method is lowering the pressure inside the well and encouraging the methane hydrate to dissociate. The chemical inhibition method seeks to displace the natural gas hydrate equilibrium condition beyond the hydrate stability zone’s thermodynamic conditions through injection of a liquid inhibitor chemical adjacent to the hydrate. Of these three production methodologies, the depressurization combined with the thermal stimulation process appears to be the most practical for zones where free gas is trapped beneath the methane hydrates.

There are two gas hydrate reservoir. They are arctic hydrates and marine hydrates. Gas hydrates are found within and under permafrost in arctic regions. They are also found within a few hundred meters of the seafloor on continental slopes and in deep seas and lakes.

The main cost here is only that of the pipeline used to transport the gas to the production platform. For subsea systems that do not produce to a fixed platform a drilling template must be used that connects to a group of wells. Transporting methane from the production site to the shore could be through submarine pipelines as is done for long distance transportation of natural gas. However, submarine pipelines are expensive and the geological hazards of the continental slope make this option difficult.

The economic production of natural gas from oceanic hydrate deposits will require new offshore drilling systems and methods. Recovering methane and economically transporting it, pose a challenge to technologists and scientists. Ideas have been conceptualized and research mounted to address these challenges.

Based on the calculations depressurization was shown to be the most promising technique for the class 1 type of reservoirs. Depressurization has also been quoted by many researchers as the most economically viable option. Methanol is approximately three times less expensive than ethylene glycol (EG), one must pay particular attention to the amount of methanol necessary to treat the inlet gas. With increasing gas flow rates, the EG injection process typically becomes a more viable option because the inhibitor is regenerated. The increased cost of utilizing methanol injection to treat larger gas volumes can be directly associated to the raw material make-up cost.


Methane Production Thermal Stimulation Hydrate Dissociation Submarine Pipeline Hydrate Deposit 
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