The Iġnik Sikumi Field Experiment, Alaska North Slope: Design, operations, and implications for CO2−CH4 exchange in gas hydrate reservoirs

Energy & Fuels
By: , and 



The Iġnik Sikumi Gas Hydrate Exchange Field Experiment was conducted by ConocoPhillips in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy, the Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation, and the U.S. Geological Survey within the Prudhoe Bay Unit on the Alaska North Slope during 2011 and 2012. The primary goals of the program were to (1) determine the feasibility of gas injection into hydrate-bearing sand reservoirs and (2) observe reservoir response upon subsequent flowback in order to assess the potential for CO2 exchange for CH4 in naturally occurring gas hydrate reservoirs. Initial modeling determined that no feasible means of injection of pure CO2 was likely, given the presence of free water in the reservoir. Laboratory and numerical modeling studies indicated that the injection of a mixture of CO2 and N2 offered the best potential for gas injection and exchange. The test featured the following primary operational phases: (1) injection of a gaseous phase mixture of CO2, N2, and chemical tracers; (2) flowback conducted at downhole pressures above the stability threshold for native CH4 hydrate; and (3) an extended (30-days) flowback at pressures near, and then below, the stability threshold of native CH4 hydrate. The test findings indicate that the formation of a range of mixed-gas hydrates resulted in a net exchange of CO2 for CH4 in the reservoir, although the complexity of the subsurface environment renders the nature, extent, and efficiency of the exchange reaction uncertain. The next steps in the evaluation of exchange technology should feature multiple well applications; however, such field test programs will require extensive preparatory experimental and numerical modeling studies and will likely be a secondary priority to further field testing of production through depressurization. Additional insights gained from the field program include the following: (1) gas hydrate destabilization is self-limiting, dispelling any notion of the potential for uncontrolled destabilization; (2) gas hydrate test wells must be carefully designed to enable rapid remediation of wellbore blockages that will occur during any cessation in operations; (3) sand production during hydrate production likely can be managed through standard engineering controls; and (4) reservoir heat exchange during depressurization was more favorable than expected—mitigating concerns for near-wellbore freezing and enabling consideration of more aggressive pressure reduction.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title The Iġnik Sikumi Field Experiment, Alaska North Slope: Design, operations, and implications for CO2−CH4 exchange in gas hydrate reservoirs
Series title Energy & Fuels
DOI 10.1021/acs.energyfuels.6b01909
Volume 31
Issue 1
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher ACS Publications
Contributing office(s) Central Energy Resources Science Center
Description 14 p.
First page 140
Last page 153
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