Gas hydrates are solid crystalline substances consisting of natural gas (typically methane) and water molecules, that remain stable under conditions of relatively cold formation temperatures and high pressures. Significant natural gas hydrates deposits occur in the Arctic in association with areas of thick permafrost, and in many marine environments around the world. Their energy potential is significant as the in place estimates of gas hydrate are thought to significantly exceed conventional natural gas resource estimates. While gas hydrates could represent a vast unconventional, environmentally-friendly natural gas resource, the challenges to realise their energy potential remain significant. They occur in remote frontier settings, new exploration methods are required to locate concentrated deposits, and technologies to produce them have not proven. Success will likely require a combination of science, technology and favourable economics. Interest in gas hydrates as an energy resource has grown in recent years with many countries having established national research and development programs. Scientific and exploratory drilling has taken place in Japan, Canada and the USA, and field programs are also planned in the near future offshore of India and China. In 2002, a seven member research partnership conducted small-scale production testing at the Mallik site in Canada's Northwest Territories. Two 1188 m science observation wells and a 1166 m production research well were drilled and instrumented to examine gas production and the physical behaviour of reservoir sediments in response to depressurization and thermal stimulation. Other aspects of the program included the collection of gas hydrate core samples, downhole geophysical logging and extensive laboratory and modeling studies. The results of the production testing and scientific investigations have been released Geological Survey of Canada Bulletin that includes 62 scientific papers and an extensive data base.


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