As part of the effort to investigate the technical feasibility of gas production from hydrate deposits, a long-term field test (lasting 18–24 months) is under consideration in a project led by the U.S. Department of Energy. We evaluate a candidate deposit involving the C-Unit at the PBU-L106 site in North Slope, Alaska. This deposit is stratigraphically bounded by impermeable shale top and bottom boundaries (Class 3), and is characterized by high intrinsic permeabilities, high porosity, high hydrate saturation, and a hydrostatic pressure distribution. The C-unit deposit is composed of two hydrate-bearing strata separated by a 30-ft-thick shale interlayer, and its temperatrure across its boundaries ranges between 5 and 6.5 °C.
We investigate by means of numerical simulation involving very fine grids the production potential of these two deposits using both vertical and horizontal wells. We also explore the sensitivity of production to key parameters such as the hydrate saturation, the formation permeability, and the permeability of the bounding shale layers. Finally, we compare the production performance of the C-Unit at the PBU-L106 site to that of the D-Unit accumulation at the Mount Elbert site, a thinner, single-layer Class 3 deposit on the North Slope of Alaska that is shallower, less-pressurized and colder (2.3 − 2.6 °C). The results indicate that production from horizontal wells may be orders of magnitude larger than that from vertical ones. Additionally, production increases with the formation permeability, and with a decreasing permeability of the boundaries. The effect of the hydrate saturation on production is complex and depends on the time frame of production. Because of higher production, the PBU-L106 deposit appears to have an advantage as a candidate for the long-term test.