Abstract

Sedimentary methane hydrates contain a vast amount of untapped natural gas that can be produced through pressure depletion. Several field pilots have proven the concept with days to weeks of operation, but the longer-term response remains uncertain. This paper investigates parameters affecting the rate of gas recovery from methane hydrate-bearing sediments. The recovery of methane gas from hydrate dissociation through pressure depletion at constant pressure was studied at different initial hydrate saturations in cylindrical sandstone cores. Core-scale dissociation patterns were mapped with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and pore-scale dissociation events were visualized in a high-pressure micromodel. Key findings from the gas production rate analysis are: 1) The maximum rate of recovery is only to a small extent affected by the magnitude of the pressure reduction below the dissociation pressure. 2) The hydrate saturation directly impacts the rate of recovery, where intermediate hydrate saturations (0.30 – 0.50) give the highest initial recovery rate. These results are of interest to anyone who evaluates the production performance of sedimentary hydrate accumulations and demonstrate how important accurate saturation estimates are to predict both the initial rate of gas recovery and the ultimate recovery efficiency.

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