Gas hydrates are a potentially vast untapped source of natural gas. Recent numerical and field studies suggest the Mallik gas hydrate field in Canada's Mackenzie Delta may represent a technically producible and potentially economically viable reservoir of natural gas. Our initial reservoir simulations using a kinetic reaction approach indicate that gas evolution and transport within porous geologic reservoirs have a significant effect on fluid production characteristics, while field and laboratory data suggest that significant amounts of evolved gas can be trapped for some time within the reservoir, depending on the field operation.

In this work, we invoke modeling concepts extensively employed in quantifying gas ex-solution from very viscous oils to further assess the kinetic behaviour of gas hydrate ex-solution via depressurization. Here the gas bubbles can be categorized into three groups with explicit transport behaviour: small bubbles (water phase), large bubbles (immobile) and connected bubbles (or free gas). These concepts allow the development of a new set of kinetic reactions for hydrate dissociation: one representing the (possibly delayed) conversion of hydrate into water and dispersed gas bubble phases, and one representing the evolution from dispersed bubbles to connected bubbles. These reactions can effectively capture the non-equilibrium fluid flow behaviour observed in field production tests.

For modeling of the transport phenomenon, we assumed two explicit mobility formulations, 1) trapped bubbles (no mobility) and a flowing water phase, and 2) large connected gas bubbles and flowing water (with relative mobility). Relative mobility can be estimated by using traditional grid block relative permeability curves. We then develop a simple mechanistic gas bubbles trapping tool as a function of Capillary Number, which can easily be incorporated into our numerical simulator. This entrapment of the non-wetting gas phase results in higher values of critical gas saturation.

Two case studies based on alternative representations of a Mallik-like gas hydrate reservoir demonstrate that significant errors can result in reservoir modeling if these fluid transport phenomena are not adequately represented in numerical simulations. Aspects of the model developed here have been applied to history matching and prediction of natural gas recovery from clastic, sand-dominated reservoir at the Mallik Site.

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