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Methane Hydrate Fuel (merged)

Discussions of conventional and alternative energy production technologies.

Re: US DOE says test shows potential for natgas hydrates

Unread postby Scottie » Wed 02 May 2012, 18:37:45

pstarr wrote:This crap is no more possible than Saturian Space Methane.


Apparently not only is it possible, but it has been done. From the quoted article...

"By injecting a mixture of carbon dioxide and nitrogen into a methane hydrate formation on Alaska's North Slope, the department was able to produce a steady flow of natural gas in the first field test of this method. The test was done from mid-February to about mid-April this year"

In a resource scarce world, it strikes me that having alternatives to depleting oil is a good thing?
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Re: US DOE says test shows potential for natgas hydrates

Unread postby Tanada » Wed 02 May 2012, 18:59:32

dbruning wrote:While I bet the methane deposits hold a ton of energy, wouldn't mining this stuff and burning it have wicked environmental problems?

I mean, there have been a great deal of concern and discussion about these deposits being disturbed and causing a deadly planetary methane burp....and now we'll mine them? Of course methane is 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide, which is what gets released (along with water) if it's burned, so maybe if it is the big threat we're worried about, maybe burning it will lower the damage potential?

Anyone else have their heads swim from all the potential badness in the world these days? With so many different things to worry us, I'm betting the one that really takes a swing at us is totally missed.


Russia has spent decades working on different methods of producing gas from sub permafrost hydrates because Siberia and northern Russia are rich in them. If the DOE has a method that is cost competitive with shale formation and tight sand formation natural gas that would be a huge boon for Canada and Alaska. As I understand it all of the methods that have shown promising results gassify the hydrates deep under the permafrost and extract them as regular methane gas. This allows them to be processed and introduced to the existing distribution pipeline network quickly and easily, no massive earth moving is required. If we can safely extract some or much of the hydrates before they thaw and escape naturally we will be doing ourselves something of a favor, especially if the Clathrate Gun hypothesis is correct.
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Re: US DOE says test shows potential for natgas hydrates

Unread postby eastbay » Wed 02 May 2012, 20:11:13

pstarr wrote:This crap is no more possible than Saturian Space Methane. (Or cold fusion for that matter). It is a slush/mud mixture on the deepest sea floors that evaporates went brought to atmospheric pressure.


Well put!

$5m/y won't buy much research on the NS. Won't buy much of anything, in fact.

They're going to have to add another zero or two to their research dollars to get anyone's attention with their wild claims ... anyone serious, that is.
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Re: US DOE says test shows potential for natgas hydrates

Unread postby Lore » Wed 02 May 2012, 20:52:09

The problem with most of these ideas is that they are just not economically scalable.
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Re: US DOE says test shows potential for natgas hydrates

Unread postby Scottie » Wed 02 May 2012, 21:38:34

Lore wrote:The problem with most of these ideas is that they are just not economically scalable.


It seems to me that things are not economically scalable until they suddenly are. Shale gas being a recent example.

As oil production winds down, prices will continue to increase, and some afternoon a thing which is not economically scalable (like methane hydrate) becomes the next boomlet. Certainly methane is a very useful energy product, and it is unlikely that humans will ignore it, as other energy commodities run short. Burn everything, we will.
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Re: US DOE says test shows potential for natgas hydrates

Unread postby dissident » Wed 02 May 2012, 23:49:02

They got a steady stream of gas but the fundamental problem of low density remains. Some numbers would have quickly put all of this into context. You need to harvest a layer distributed over thousands of square kilometers. The volume of gas per unit area is not that large. Also, unlike fracked wells or conventional wells you are not going to have the gas flow concentrated into one well head with any commercially viable quantity. So a mobile gas harvester operation is needed which is nothing like existing gas field development but a seafloor mining operation.

Clathrates are formed on the slopes of continental shelves which are unstable locations for seabed disruption. The article quotes people saying that this development is still a long way away. There are show-stopping reasons for this and once again the media does a disservice by not addressing them. No wonder people have the impression that things will work out fine. Technological and resource problems are not presented, just techno-cornucopian expectations of a utopian future.
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Re: US DOE says test shows potential for natgas hydrates

Unread postby Tanada » Thu 03 May 2012, 05:22:16

dissident wrote:They got a steady stream of gas but the fundamental problem of low density remains. Some numbers would have quickly put all of this into context. You need to harvest a layer distributed over thousands of square kilometers. The volume of gas per unit area is not that large. Also, unlike fracked wells or conventional wells you are not going to have the gas flow concentrated into one well head with any commercially viable quantity. So a mobile gas harvester operation is needed which is nothing like existing gas field development but a seafloor mining operation.

Clathrates are formed on the slopes of continental shelves which are unstable locations for seabed disruption. The article quotes people saying that this development is still a long way away. There are show-stopping reasons for this and once again the media does a disservice by not addressing them. No wonder people have the impression that things will work out fine. Technological and resource problems are not presented, just techno-cornucopian expectations of a utopian future.



If you follow the link to the original article you will see they are working on tundra land sub permafrost clathrates, not sea floor clathrates. It seems to me that with multi branch recovery wells and whatever stimulation injection wells they are testing the process should yield results conceptually the same as the tight shale/sand gas being extracted with the new fracking techniques. In this case they are using a different method to release the gas than fracking, which does nothing for methane hydrates, but the recovery technology for the multi branch wells is already well developed. Russia and the USSR before them had some success extracting these kind of hydrates with simple two well systems where they injected steam or heated water in one well to melt the hydrates deep under ground and extract the resulting liquid for surface processing. In another example I have read about they pulled a vacuum on the extraction well causing the hydrates to destabilize and liquify for extraction.

I certainly agree that some numbers and costs would have been a big help, if it costs $10/MMU to get the clathrate gas out then it won't compete with other sources for a very long time, if on the other hand it costs $3 then it is competitive now.
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Re: US DOE says test shows potential for natgas hydrates

Unread postby Scottie » Thu 03 May 2012, 06:12:52

Tanada wrote:I certainly agree that some numbers and costs would have been a big help, if it costs $10/MMU to get the clathrate gas out then it won't compete with other sources for a very long time, if on the other hand it costs $3 then it is competitive now.


Even withoutt that large of a competitive advantage, methane is still better than using coal. Certainly the power companies are getting in on the deal, and once they begin spiking demand for natural gas, hydrates are going to continue to look better and better.

http://www.power-eng.com/articles/2012/ ... eting.html
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Re: US DOE says test shows potential for natgas hydrates

Unread postby Lore » Thu 03 May 2012, 13:14:53

I'm waiting for the next hype around oil shale to begin through some desperate techno gamble.
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Re: US DOE says test shows potential for natgas hydrates

Unread postby seenmostofit » Thu 03 May 2012, 17:38:28

pstarr wrote:Think of the worst tight-shale play and then multiply the costs by 100x and the payback by 1/100. It's underwater right?


Tanada notes that it is NOT underwater. I imagine the economics of that are quite a bit different.
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Re: US DOE says test shows potential for natgas hydrates

Unread postby kublikhan » Thu 03 May 2012, 18:48:51

Scottie wrote:
pstarr wrote:This crap is no more possible than Saturian Space Methane.
Apparently not only is it possible, but it has been done. From the quoted article...
As Tanada mentioned, the Russians have done work with this as well. And not just a research well, Norilsk is producing commercial methane hydrate gas today. Other countries are getting into the game as well.

Deep in the Arctic Circle, in the Messoyakha gas field of western Siberia, lies a pioneer in methane hydrate extraction. Back in 1967, Russian engineers began pumping natural gas from beneath the permafrost and piping it east across the tundra to the Norilsk metal smelter, the biggest industrial enterprise in the Arctic. In 1978 they decided to wind down the operation. According to their surveys, they had sapped nearly all the methane from the deposit. But despite their estimates, the gas just kept on coming. The gas field was re-opened and continues to power Norilsk today.

Where was this methane coming from? Russian geologists initially thought it was leaking from another deposit hidden beneath the first. But their experiments revealed the opposite -- the mystery methane was seeping into the well from the icy permafrost above. If unintentionally, what they had achieved was the first, and so far only, successful exploitation of methane hydrate.
Tundra Gas - Methane

China's largest coal producer, China Shenhua Group, has launched a project to research and develop combustible ice, a kind of natural gas hydrate, in the northwestern Qinghai province. Shenhua Group signed an agreement with the Qinghai provincial government on Monday evening to start the exploration of combustible ice in the province.

China announced the first discovery of the resource under the bed of the South China Sea in May 2007. After it was discovered in Muli prefecture in Qinghai province in 2009, the Ministry of Land Resources announced that China had found combustible ice in the land-based region as well.

Experts expect China to experience a period of peak energy demand from 2020 to 2025. With further exploration, the country's prospective volume of natural gas hydrate in frozen earth regions is estimated to reach an equivalent to 35 billion tonnes of oil.
China's largest coal producer to develop "combustible ice"
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Re: US DOE says test shows potential for natgas hydrates

Unread postby kublikhan » Thu 03 May 2012, 18:50:44

Scottie wrote:
dbruning wrote:While I bet the methane deposits hold a ton of energy, wouldn't mining this stuff and burning it have wicked environmental problems?
Seems like if it is going to end up in the atmosphere anyway, might as well burn it and get some work out of it before it does?
Makes sense to me. Capture the methane before it leaks into the atmosphere, and at the same time you get another fossil fuel source.

The most recent DoE experiment was innovative. They lowered well pressure to make the hydrate flow and get the gas out.

In other words, this method removed a greenhouse gas from the atmosphere and produced an energy source. Even my environmentally-conscious colleague Jeff Siegel of the Power Portfolio would give two thumbs up for that.
Methane Hydrates - More Energy than All Other Fossil Fuels Combined

One of the main arguments in favor of exploiting onshore methane hydrates deposits concerns climate change. With many parts of the world, especially the permafrost regions, experiencing increases in temperature, methane is slowly being released from these deposits into the atmosphere. The permafrost is melting at an accelerating pace and thus the release of methane is increasing exponentially. As methane is a "greenhouse" gas that has a much greater impact on global warming than carbon dioxide, it is imperative to prevent as much of this methane as possible from escaping into the atmospere. Extracting the methane hydrates for use as fuel serves a doubly important purpose: it provides a much needed fuel at a time when global oil supplies appear to be dwindling and it saves the world from possibly disastrous sudden rises in temperature. By coincidence, Qinghai has been identified in scientific studies as the place with the fastest rising temperatures in the world.
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Re: US DOE says test shows potential for natgas hydrates

Unread postby dissident » Thu 03 May 2012, 21:56:45

Abstract PDF

1) The Messoyakha reservoir is a land based reservoir under a deep glacial permafrost layer (420-480 meters). This is not a typical configuration for seabed clathrates except in Arctic shelf regions such as the ESAS. So don't expect well type production.

2) According to the article abstract above it is not clear at all that the "fat tail" decline of this reservoir is due to clathrate production.

There are no seabed clathrate extraction operations that would enable an assessment of commercial viability. If people can find any news on such operations being planned then that would be really useful information.
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Re: US DOE says test shows potential for natgas hydrates

Unread postby vtsnowedin » Fri 04 May 2012, 01:11:28

As difficult as both deep water and sub permafrost hydrate methane deposits are to access they are still a hell of a lot closer then Saturn or some asteroid. For one thing you don't have to bring it through the reentry process without burning it up. I expect they will keep working on ways to bring usable amounts to the surface and eventually find a way that is viable at the then prevailing price.
Imagine if you will a robot bulldozer pushing square miles of deep water hydrate beds to one central riser pipe where the slush is brought up out of the deep pressure and the methane is separated from the water. Might be able to get it to the surface as already compressed LNG. Working through just 500 meters of permafrost should be a piece of cake in comparison and would obviously become profitable well before any deep water process.
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Re: US DOE says test shows potential for natgas hydrates

Unread postby vtsnowedin » Fri 04 May 2012, 02:53:30

pstarr wrote:
vtsnowedin wrote:As difficult as both deep water and sub permafrost hydrate methane deposits are to access they are still a hell of a lot closer then Saturn or some asteroid. For one thing you don't have to bring it through the reentry process without burning it up. I expect they will keep working on ways to bring usable amounts to the surface and eventually find a way that is viable at the then prevailing price.
Imagine if you will a robot bulldozer pushing square miles of deep water hydrate beds to one central riser pipe where the slush is brought up out of the deep pressure and the methane is separated from the water. Might be able to get it to the surface as already compressed LNG. Working through just 500 meters of permafrost should be a piece of cake in comparison and would obviously become profitable well before any deep water process.
Piece of cake.

At this rate you might earn your stripes under VASSAL OF HIS LORD GINGRICH OF THE MOON COLONY


Did you miss the phrase "in comparison" after piece of cake? An important modifier that puts my level of enthusiasm well on the plane of reality.
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Re: US DOE says test shows potential for natgas hydrates

Unread postby seenmostofit » Fri 04 May 2012, 06:44:45

dissident wrote:There are no seabed clathrate extraction operations that would enable an assessment of commercial viability. If people can find any news on such operations being planned then that would be really useful information.


How many decades, or even centuries, had oil and gas production been going on until underwater extraction of oil and gas came about. Seems to me that producing the stuff from onshore installations first makes perfect sense. And if the scientists are to be believed, there is quite a bit onshore to chase before worrying about the stuff offshore. Already have a pipeline in that neck of the woods to bring it down to power places like Anchorage.

http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2008/3073/pdf/FS08-3073_508.pdf
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