This month in history: Hot ice project
Twenty years ago this month: Anadarko to core hydrate well south of Kuparuk
Anadarko Petroleum Corp. will be testing its modular Arctic platform south of Kuparuk this winter - and drilling the first completely cored gas hydrate well in Alaska
The Arctic platform (see story in Oct. 27, 2002, issue of PNA) will include a modularized state-of-the art mobile testing laboratory to test the hydrates, Anadarko’s Keith Millheim, Ph.D., told PNA Oct. 22. Millheim, the Houston-based manager of operations technology for Anadarko, is involved in both the Arctic platform and the hydrate coring project.
The hydrate coring is “a combination project for us. … It’s research on the hydrates as well as the Arctic platform prototype,” said Mark Hanley, Anadarko’s public affairs manager for Alaska.
When Congress made money available through the U.S. Department of Energy for a hydrate project in Alaska, Anadarko applied, as did BP, Millheim said. Both projects were funded (see story on BP project).
Anadarko’s project is to drill and core “one complete well through the potential hydrate section, which is down to about 3,000 feet. And to evaluate the cores,” Millheim said.
The Mallik hydrate wells have been drilled in the Canadian Arctic, but this well will be a first in Alaska, he said.
“No one has drilled, purposefully, a hydrate well… where you specifically core the hydrates and measure the hydrate content,” he said.
Coring a hydrate wellAnadarko’s proposal was in two phases. The first involved identifying a site with good potential for hydrates, and developing detailed costs and timing for the project. Anadarko also did some testing in Houston with frozen cores to determine how best to recover them.
In addition to coring the well, Anadarko will also evaluate the cores as they come out of the well, and Millheim said that is a unique part of the company’s project.
Anadarko has “constructed a one-of-a-kind mobile laboratory, which will be on the platform, which will evaluate all the properties of the hydrate as it comes out of the well,” Millheim said. The lab is modularized, he said, and can be moved by helicopter.
Anadarko’s gas hydrate prospect is south of the Kuparuk River unit and east of Meltwater. Bill Fowler, Anadarko’s Houston-based environmental supervisor, said the company is permitting three locations. The farthest is some 15 miles from infrastructure, the nearest seven to eight miles. The Alaska Division of Governmental Coordination has begun the Alaska Coastal Management Program consistency review for the project; comment deadline is Dec. 3. DGC said Anadarko has proposed as many as three exploratory gas wells in 2003 and 2004. The company said that if it gets all of its permits, it expects to be coring in March.
Next source of natural gasFowler said hydrates are probably going to follow coalbed methane as the next unconventional source of natural gas for the United States and, he said, hydrate research is probably where coalbed methane research was a decade ago.
Successful development of gas hydrates would make tremendous quantities of gas available.
A one-foot cube of hydrate ice, Millheim said, holds approximately 160 cubic feet of natural gas, plus a little bit of water.
Hydrates occur both in the Arctic and in deepwater. Japan, he said, is involved in the Canadian Mallik project and is looking at deepwater hydrates it controls as an energy source.
“It’s an immense resource. It dwarfs the known hydrocarbon resources on the planet,” Millheim said.