This paper presents a practical approach to commercial production of gas hydrates. The background and current status of hydrates is reviewed. Concepts for exploration and production of methane resources are presented. Conceptual and procedural techniques are included.


Attention is focused on gas hydrates as petroleum reserves dwindle and the price of fuel rises rapidly. Figure 1, the cover of National Geographic, June 2004, states bluntly "The End of Cheap Oil". Oil is a mainstay of society and general well being in the modern world. Reshuffling of the world's economy at this very moment is rapidly changing political, social, and military relationships creating grave doubt for the future. National Geographic, hardly an alarmist publication, is best known for its clear insight and candor.

In keeping with naming periods of history The Stone Age, The Iron Age, etc., the present is The Oil Age and we are living in the latter day. The question is what will replace petroleum? Coal, water, atomic energy, though important--none can substitute for oil. When questioned by an American Oil & Gas reporter, October 2004, President Bush answered, "Devising methods to tap the massive energy potential of methane hydrates". The author accepts the President's challenge and this paper offers concepts to commercially produce methane.

Major Considerations

Hydrates, abundant in many coastal and polar regions, are a ready source of methane. The West can ill afford to continue as we are now, even if the world was at peace. We fueled WWI, WWII, and ensuing conflicts but fueling another major war is out of the question. As conflicts continue the US will simply go bankrupt. Much of the world will cheer. Modification of the old adage-"Land of the free and the home of the hated", is indeed true. Life as we know it will change inexorably if we fail to develop gas hydrates. The balance of political, economic, military, and social power will no longer be Western-dominated. There is no time to dally, time is of essence, the hour is late, and the West must hasten if global chaos and disaster are to be averted. To succeed we must organize a cooperative structure of governments, industries, and academia to commercially produce hydrates. However, currently cooperation is moving at an intolerably slow pace. The goal is singular--develop gas hydrates IMMEDIATELY!

Nature has provided gas hydrates in abundance beneath the sea and on shore in polar regions. Occurrences are documented in offshore Florida, Georgia, and the Gulf of Mexico, as well as coastal areas around the globe. Figure 2 is a view of known hydrate occurrences. Figure 3 locates the Northern and Southern Hydrate Ridges off the coast of Oregon. In general hydrates occur along the base of the continental slope.

NASA SeaSat program assessed marine resources. Differential scanning radiometers were developed that could detect sea surface evidence of hydrates below. Note Figure 4 indicates the presence of hydrates. This picture is not of hydrates but it is indicative of the type of readout that could indicate such deposits.

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