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Alaska North Slope terrestrial gas hydrate systems: Insights from scientific drilling

January 17, 2022

A wealth of information has been accumulated regarding the occurrence of gas hydrates in nature, leading to significant advancements in our understanding of the geologic controls on their occurrence in both the terrestrial and marine settings of the Arctic. Gas hydrate accumulations discovered in the Alaska North Slope have been the focus of several important geoscience and production testing research programs. The Mount Elbert Gas Hydrate Stratigraphic Test Well of 2007 yielded one of the most complete geologic datasets on Arctic gas hydrate systems and important reservoir engineering data. The 2011/2012 field test of the Iġnik Sikumi gas hydrate production test well provided important insight into gas hydrate production technologies, yielding additional information on the petrophysical properties of gas hydrate reservoir systems. The Hydrate-01 Stratigraphic Test Well, drilled late in 2018, confirmed the geologic conditions at an Alaska North Slope drill site that was selected for an extended gas hydrate production test. In 2018, the US Geological Survey used information derived from previous scientific drilling programs to assess the volume of undiscovered, technically recoverable gas resources at a mean estimate of about 54 trillion cubic feet (~1.5 trillion cubic meters) within the gas hydrates in the North Slope of Alaska. This assessment has shown that the amount of gas stored as gas hydrates in this area is equal to about half of the known volume of conventional natural gas resources in the region.