Fire in Ice: Implications for Energy Development and the Carbon Cycle?

The goal of this workshop is to identify and discuss the key research challenges for gas hydrates in the areas of global climate change, exploration and production of gas hydrates as an energy resource, transportation of hydrocarbon, and seafloor stability. The charge of the discussion leaders in each session is to direct the discussion to the identification of these key research challenges. Below are several questions which may serve as a framework for guiding this unique dialogue.

Carbon Cycle and Climate Change

  1. Can large quantities of gas escape gas hydrate systems in the past or in the future?

  2. Given one-to-many sediment columns with a known distribution of gas hydrate and known sediment properties, how will a thermal perturbation in bottom water dissociate hydrate in the sediment column?

  3. Once dissociated, can sufficient free gas be generated to create overpressure and release gas to the ocean or atmosphere?

  4. How are gas hydrate systems linked to the global carbon cycle?

  5. How do gas hydrate systems form?

Energy Exploration and Production Issues

  1. What is the estimated resource size?
  2. What do we expect to learn from hands-on production experience?
  3. What are the obstacles, technical and otherwise, to developing successful hydrate reservoir production techniques?
  4. What are the key issues in exploration or discovery of gas hydrates?
  5. Do the production challenges for hydrate vary in different locations -- such as the arctic and deep ocean?
  6. What will be the cost involved in exploration and production?
  7. Is it possible to quantify the amount of free gas below the hydrate zone? What are the estimates?
  8. Is it possible to extract any methane from hydrates without releasing contiguous free gas?
  9. How sensitive is the free gas to temperature change?
  10. Do we need to reassess the hydrate resource size taking into account better data on associated free gas?
  11. Would free gas be produced through primary depletion, geothermal heat or some other method?
  12. What is lacking in our understanding of hydrates kinetics?


This workshop was sponsored by the Energy Forum of the Baker Institute, in conjunction with the Shell Center for Sustainability and the Energy & Environmental Systems Institute (EESI) of Rice University.


Workshop Agenda and Presentations

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

9:00 am Welcome and Participant Introductions
Amy Myers Jaffe, Shell Center for Sustainability and James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy

Opening Remarks by Dr. George Hirasaki, Rice University

9:20 am Global Carbon Cycle and Climate Change
Session Chair: Dr. Gerald Dickens

Introductory Remarks on Interdisciplinary Research on Gas Hydrates and Climate Change by Dr. Gerald Dickens, Rice University

PDF icon "Overview on How Gas Hydrates Form in Nature"
Dr. George Claypool, U.S. Geological Survey

PDF icon "Methane Production and Consumption in Marine Sediments"
Dr. David Valentine, University of California, Santa Barbara


10:55 am Coffee Break

11:10 am Discussion on Future Research on Gas Hydrates Systems and Climate Change

Noon Lunch 

1:30 pm Exploration and Production: First Efforts and Technical Issues
Session Chair: Dr. George Hirasaki,
Rice University

Opening Remarks by Dr. George Hirasaki, Rice University

PDF icon "Production Scenarios"
PDF icon Read the presentation summary
Arthur Johnson, Hydrate Energy International

PDF icon "Assessment of the Resource Potential of Methane Hydrate in the Nankai Trough, offshore Central Japan"
Dr. Yoshihiro Tsuji


PDF icon "Resource Potential in the Gulf of Mexico and the North Slope of Alaska"
PDF icon "Methane Hydrate Research Alignment and Interaction"
Dr. Alexei Milkov, BP
PDF iconRead the presentation summary


"Flow Assurance"
Dr. Ajay Mehta, Shell

3:50 pm Coffee Break

4:00 pm Discussion on Production Research 


Thursday, November 13, 2003

9:00 am Opening Remarks

Dr. Walter Chapman, Rice University

9:10 am Production Challenges and Kinetics
Session Chair: Dr. G.J. Moridis

PDF icon "Production Challenges"
Dr. G.J. Moridis, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

PDF icon "Kinetics"
Dr. Raj Bishnoi, University of Calgary

"Seafloor Stability"
Sivakumar Subramanian, ChevronTexaco

11:10 am Discussion on Future Research

Noon Closing Remarks
Amy Myers Jaffe
, Shell Center for Sustainability and James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy

Speaker Amy Jaffe

View all speakers


Wed, Nov. 12 - Thu, Nov. 13, 2003
8:30 a.m. - 1 p.m.
(GMT-0500) America/Chicago