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Alaska North Slope regional gas hydrate production modeling forecasts

January 1, 2011

A series of gas hydrate development scenarios were created to assess the range of outcomes predicted for the possible development of the “Eileen” gas hydrate accumulation, North Slope, Alaska. Production forecasts for the “reference case” were built using the 2002 Mallik production tests, mechanistic simulation, and geologic studies conducted by the US Geological Survey. Three additional scenarios were considered: A “downside-scenario” which fails to identify viable production, an “upside-scenario” describes results that are better than expected. To capture the full range of possible outcomes and balance the downside case, an “extreme upside scenario” assumes each well is exceptionally productive.

Starting with a representative type-well simulation forecasts, field development timing is applied and the sum of individual well forecasts creating the field-wide production forecast. This technique is commonly used to schedule large-scale resource plays where drilling schedules are complex and production forecasts must account for many changing parameters. The complementary forecasts of rig count, capital investment, and cash flow can be used in a pre-appraisal assessment of potential commercial viability.

Since no significant gas sales are currently possible on the North Slope of Alaska, typical parameters were used to create downside, reference, and upside case forecasts that predict from 0 to 71 BM3 (2.5 tcf) of gas may be produced in 20 years and nearly 283 BM3 (10 tcf) ultimate recovery after 100 years.

Outlining a range of possible outcomes enables decision makers to visualize the pace and milestones that will be required to evaluate gas hydrate resource development in the Eileen accumulation. Critical values of peak production rate, time to meaningful production volumes, and investments required to rule out a downside case are provided. Upside cases identify potential if both depressurization and thermal stimulation yield positive results. An “extreme upside” case captures the full potential of unconstrained development with widely spaced wells. The results of this study indicate that recoverable gas hydrate resources may exist in the Eileen accumulation and that it represents a good opportunity for continued research.