Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Mount Elbert Gas Hydrate Stratigraphic Test Well, Alaska North Slope: Coring operations, core sedimentology, and lithostratigraphy

January 1, 2011

In February 2007, BP Exploration (Alaska), the U.S. Department of Energy, and the U.S. Geological Survey completed the BPXA-DOE-USGS Mount Elbert Gas Hydrate Stratigraphic Test Well (Mount Elbert well) in the Milne Point Unit on the Alaska North Slope. The program achieved its primary goals of validating the pre-drill estimates of gas hydrate occurrence and thickness based on 3-D seismic interpretations and wireline log correlations and collecting a comprehensive suite of logging, coring, and pressure testing data. The upper section of the Mount Elbert well was drilled through the base of ice-bearing permafrost to a casing point of 594 m (1950 ft), approximately 15 m (50 ft) above the top of the targeted reservoir interval. The lower portion of the well was continuously cored from 606 m (1987 ft) to 760 m (2494 ft) and drilled to a total depth of 914 m. Ice-bearing permafrost extends to a depth of roughly 536 m and the base of gas hydrate stability is interpreted to extend to a depth of 870 m. Coring through the targeted gas hydrate bearing reservoirs was completed using a wireline-retrievable system. The coring program achieved 85% recovery of 7.6 cm (3 in) diameter core through 154 m (504 ft) of the hole. An onsite team processed the cores, collecting and preserving approximately 250 sub-samples for analyses of pore water geochemistry, microbiology, gas chemistry, petrophysical analysis, and thermal and physical properties. Eleven samples were immediately transferred to either methane-charged pressure vessels or liquid nitrogen for future study of the preserved gas hydrate. Additional offsite sampling, analyses, and detailed description of the cores were also conducted. Based on this work, one lithostratigraphic unit with eight subunits was identified across the cored interval. Subunits II and Va comprise the majority of the reservoir facies and are dominantly very fine to fine, moderately sorted, quartz, feldspar, and lithic fragment-bearing to -rich sands. Lithostratigraphic and palynologic data indicate that this section is most likely early Eocene to late Paleocene in age. The examined units contain evidence for both marine and non-marine lithofacies, and indications that the depositional environment for the reservoir facies may have been shallower marine than originally interpreted based on pre-drill wireline log interpretations. There is also evidence of reduced salinity marine conditions during deposition that may be related to the paleo-climate and depositional conditions during the early Eocene.

Publication Year 2011
Title Mount Elbert Gas Hydrate Stratigraphic Test Well, Alaska North Slope: Coring operations, core sedimentology, and lithostratigraphy
DOI 10.1016/j.marpetgeo.2010.02.001
Authors K. Rose, R. Boswell, Timothy S. Collett
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Marine and Petroleum Geology
Index ID 70035949
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse