Natural Gas Supplies Could Be Augmented With Methane Hydrate, But Challenges Remain
WASHINGTON – Naturally occurring methane hydrate may represent an enormous source of methane, the main component of natural gas, and could ultimately augment conventional natural gas supplies, says a new congressionally mandated report from the National Research Council. Although a number of challenges require attention before commercial production can be realized, no technical challenges have been identified as insurmountable. Moreover, the U.S. Department of Energy's Methane Hydrate Research and Development Program has made considerable progress in the past five years toward understanding and developing methane hydrate as a possible energy resource.
|"DOE's program and programs in the national and international research community provide increasing confidence from a technical standpoint that some commercial production of methane from methane hydrate could be achieved in the |
Methane hydrate, a solid composed of methane and water, occurs in abundance on the world's continental margins and in permafrost regions, such as in the Gulf of Mexico and
Some of the remaining challenges to production identified by the committee include developing the technology necessary to produce methane from methane hydrate and understanding methane hydrate's potential to behave as a geohazard. For example, industry practice is to avoid methane-hydrate bearing areas during drilling for conventional oil and gas resources for safety reasons. However, avoidance will not be possible if methane hydrate is the production target. In addition, the committee recommended research and development areas for DOE's program, such as designing production tests, appraising and mitigating environmental issues related to production, and determining with greater accuracy the methane hydrate resources on the Alaska North Slope and in marine reservoirs.
The report was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering,
Copies of Realizing the Energy Potential of Methane Hydrate for the United States are available from the National Academies Press; tel. 202-334-3313 or 1-800-624-6242 or on the Internet at http://www.nap.edu. Reporters may obtain a copy from the Office of News and Public Information (contacts listed above).
Division on Earth and Life Studies
Board on Earth Sciences and Resources
Ocean Studies Board
Polar Research Board
Committee on Assessment of the Department of Energy's Methane Hydrate Research and
Development Program: Evaluating Methane Hydrates as a Future Energy Resource
Charles Paull (chair)
Scott R. Dallimore
Sidney J. Green *
Charles J. Mankin
Elizabeth A. Eide