F2: GLOBAL OCCURRENCES OF GAS H YDRATES
Source: Map compiled by USGS
Gas hydrate recovered
Gas hydrate inferred
which could result in leakage and make NGH extraction inefficient and uneconomical.
According to the report, titled, “Frozen Heat: A Global Outlook on Methane Gas Hydrates”
published by the United Nations Environment Program in 2014, gas hydrate dissociation
might amplify future warming, ocean acidification, and oxygen loss.
However, recent studies also suggest that circulation of cold seafloor water near exploration or production activities is sufficient to dramatically reduce the risk of NGH-in-duced sediment instability, besides the usage of other refrigeration techniques. This
significantly reduces the environmental risk character of the NGH resources.
Bringing down the cost of producing natural gas from NGH fields is yet another challenge. At the nascent state of current technologies and level of expertise available, extracting gas hydrates is a very costly affair, making its commercial production unlikely
for the next 10 to 15 years, barring a quick technological breakthrough.
Darren Spalding and Laura Fox of Bracewell in London, in an article titled, “Challenges
of Methane Hydrates” published in the May 2014 issue of Oil and Gas Financial Journal,
estimated the cost of producing gas from methane hydrates in the range of US$30 to
US$50 per million British thermal units (MMBTUs). This enormous cost, according to
the International Energy Agency (IEA), can be brought down significantly between
US$4.70 and US$8.7 per MMBTU once efficient practices and processes are developed.
After realizing the resource potential of NGH, the world is now evolving fast from
viewing this energy source as a problem to developing ways to manage the same. This
can support the global efforts in shifting towards cleaner fossil fuel in a big way as an
alternate fuel to oil and coal, thereby reducing emissions from GHG significantly.
Given the poor energy endowments of major importing countries such as Japan, India,
and South Korea and the need to shift towards cleaner fossil fuels such as natural gas,
several countries have initiated NGH programs. The US Department of Energy (DOE)
has so far played a leading role in NGH research, followed by Japan, which initiated a
research program in the mid-1990s.
However, NGH research is still at the research stage with no commercial production
so far established anywhere in the world. In this regard, several production research and
development studies have been carried
out at places such as the Mallik site in
Canada’s Mackenzie Delta and the Nankai
Trough off the southern coast of Japan,
under their respective programs.
In the United States, the NGH program
is operated by the DOE, whose major focus
has been the Gulf of Mexico. In addition,
the DOE, along with the USGS and Japan,
are working to evaluate potential drilling
locations and develop viable project
GAS HYDRATE PROGRAMS IN INDIA
In India, gas hydrate programs were initiated in 1996 by the Gas Authority of India
Limited (GAIL) under the auspices of the
Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas (
MoPNG). Built on the results of the US Department of Energy’s first national NGH
program of 1982, the National Gas Hydrate
Program (NGHP) was restructured under
the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons
National upstream companies such as
Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited,
GAIL, Indian Oil Corporation Limited and
Oil India Limited, and national research
institutions such as the National Institute
of Oceanography (NIO), the National Geo-
physical Research Institute (NGRI), and
the National Institute of Ocean Technology
(NIOT) were entrusted to reanalyze the
resource potential of NGH along the Indian
shelf followed by technology development
for safe production of gas from NGH.
Further, MoPNG and DGH have signed
MoUs with agencies such as the USGS, the
US-DOE (under renewal), the US-Minerals
Management Services (now Bureau of
Ocean Energy Management) (under re-
newal), Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National
Corporation (JOGMEC), GFZ-POTSDAM,
Germany and IFM-GEOMAR, Germany.
NGHP carried out its Expedition-01 in
2006 in which the presence of significant
quantities of NGH has been established in
the Krishna Godavari (KG), Mahanadi, and
Andaman basins. Under this expedition
no assessment has been made on the potential of gas hydrates in this region. However, Hydrate Energy International has
estimated the NGH potential in India at