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Title: Gas hydrate reservoirs and gas migration mechanisms in the Terrebonne Basin, Gulf of Mexico

Abstract

Here, the interactions of microbial methane generation in fine-grained clay-rich sediments, methane migration, and gas hydrate accumulation in coarse-grained, sand-rich sediments are not yet fully understood. The Terrebonne Basin in the northern Gulf of Mexico provides an ideal setting to investigate the migration of methane resulting in the formation of hydrate in thin sand units interbedded with fractured muds. Using 3D seismic and well log data, we have identified several previously unidentified hydrate bearing units in the Terrebonne Basin. Two units are >100 m- thick fine-grained clay-rich units where gas hydrate occurs in near-vertical fractures. In some locations, these fine-grained units lack fracture features, and they contain 1-4-m thick hydrate bearing-sands. In addition, several other thin sand units were identified that contain gas hydrate, including one sand that was intersected by a well at the location of a discontinuous bottom-simulating reflector. Using correlation of well log data to seismic data, we have mapped and described these new units in detail across the extent of the available data, allowing us to determine the variation of seismic amplitudes and investigate the distribution of free gas and/or hydrate. We present several potential source-reservoir scenarios between the thick fractured mud units and thin hydratemore » bearing sands. We observe that hydrate preferentially forms within thin sand layers rather than fractures when sands are present in larger marine mud units. Based on regional mapping showing the patchy lateral extent of the thin sand layers, we propose that diffusive methane migration or short-migration of microbially generated methane from the marine mud units led to the formation of hydrate in these thin sands, as discontinuous sands would not be conducive to long-range migration of methane from deeper reservoirs.« less

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1];  [1];  [2];  [2];  [3];  [2];  [2]
  1. The Ohio State Univ., Columbus, OH (United States)
  2. Univ. of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX (United States)
  3. Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Palisades, NY (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
The Ohio State Univ., Columbus, OH (United States); Univ. of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Fossil Energy (FE)
OSTI Identifier:
1373260
Grant/Contract Number:
FE0013919
Resource Type:
Journal Article: Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Marine and Petroleum Geology
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 86; Journal Issue: C; Journal ID: ISSN 0264-8172
Publisher:
Elsevier
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
03 NATURAL GAS; 58 GEOSCIENCES; seismic amplitude; hydrate; methane migration; sand; diffusion; advection

Citation Formats

Hillman, Jess I. T., Cook, Ann E., Daigle, Hugh, Nole, Michael, Malinverno, Alberto, Meazell, Kevin, and Flemings, Peter B. Gas hydrate reservoirs and gas migration mechanisms in the Terrebonne Basin, Gulf of Mexico. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.1016/j.marpetgeo.2017.07.029.
Hillman, Jess I. T., Cook, Ann E., Daigle, Hugh, Nole, Michael, Malinverno, Alberto, Meazell, Kevin, & Flemings, Peter B. Gas hydrate reservoirs and gas migration mechanisms in the Terrebonne Basin, Gulf of Mexico. United States. doi:10.1016/j.marpetgeo.2017.07.029.
Hillman, Jess I. T., Cook, Ann E., Daigle, Hugh, Nole, Michael, Malinverno, Alberto, Meazell, Kevin, and Flemings, Peter B. 2017. "Gas hydrate reservoirs and gas migration mechanisms in the Terrebonne Basin, Gulf of Mexico". United States. doi:10.1016/j.marpetgeo.2017.07.029.
@article{osti_1373260,
title = {Gas hydrate reservoirs and gas migration mechanisms in the Terrebonne Basin, Gulf of Mexico},
author = {Hillman, Jess I. T. and Cook, Ann E. and Daigle, Hugh and Nole, Michael and Malinverno, Alberto and Meazell, Kevin and Flemings, Peter B.},
abstractNote = {Here, the interactions of microbial methane generation in fine-grained clay-rich sediments, methane migration, and gas hydrate accumulation in coarse-grained, sand-rich sediments are not yet fully understood. The Terrebonne Basin in the northern Gulf of Mexico provides an ideal setting to investigate the migration of methane resulting in the formation of hydrate in thin sand units interbedded with fractured muds. Using 3D seismic and well log data, we have identified several previously unidentified hydrate bearing units in the Terrebonne Basin. Two units are >100 m- thick fine-grained clay-rich units where gas hydrate occurs in near-vertical fractures. In some locations, these fine-grained units lack fracture features, and they contain 1-4-m thick hydrate bearing-sands. In addition, several other thin sand units were identified that contain gas hydrate, including one sand that was intersected by a well at the location of a discontinuous bottom-simulating reflector. Using correlation of well log data to seismic data, we have mapped and described these new units in detail across the extent of the available data, allowing us to determine the variation of seismic amplitudes and investigate the distribution of free gas and/or hydrate. We present several potential source-reservoir scenarios between the thick fractured mud units and thin hydrate bearing sands. We observe that hydrate preferentially forms within thin sand layers rather than fractures when sands are present in larger marine mud units. Based on regional mapping showing the patchy lateral extent of the thin sand layers, we propose that diffusive methane migration or short-migration of microbially generated methane from the marine mud units led to the formation of hydrate in these thin sands, as discontinuous sands would not be conducive to long-range migration of methane from deeper reservoirs.},
doi = {10.1016/j.marpetgeo.2017.07.029},
journal = {Marine and Petroleum Geology},
number = C,
volume = 86,
place = {United States},
year = 2017,
month = 7
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
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  • The Terrebonne Basin is a salt bounded mini-basin in the northeast section of the Walker Ridge protraction area in the Gulf of Mexico, and the main site for an upcoming gas-hydrate focused International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) cruise. The basin is infilled by an increasingly mud rich sedimentary sequence with several 5-15 meter gas-hydrate filled sand units of Miocene to Pliocene age overlying the up-domed salt. These gas-hydrate filled sand units can be identified in logging while drilling data from two existing wells in the Terrebonne Basin, drilled in 2009 by the Gas Hydrate Joint Industry Project (JIP) Leg 2.more » The sand units are cross cut by a distinct bottom-simulating reflector (BSR), and are clearly characterized by a polarity reversal in the sand units. The polarity reversal is caused by a positive gas-hydrate filled sand within the stability zone changing to negative gas-bearing sand. Using well data and calculated synthetic seismogram well ties we are able to identify several additional 1-4 meter gas-hydrate and water-saturated sand units associated with thick (100-200 m-thick), fine grained, hydrate bearing fractured units in the upper sedimentary sequence on the seismic data. Following on previous work, we propose that microbial generation of methane occurring within the fine-grained, fractured units acts as a source for gas hydrate formation in the thin sands. In contrast, it has been proposed that the gas hydrate in the 5-15 m-thick sands first discovered by the JIP was originates from a deeper thermogenic source. Through correlating hydrate occurrence in sands from well data, to amplitudes derived from the seismic data, we can estimate possible distribution of hydrate across the basin. Overall, we find the Terrebonne basin to be a complex gas hydrate system with multiple mechanisms of methane generation and migration.« less
  • In 2009, the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) Gas Hydrates Joint-Industry-Project (JIP) Leg II drilling program confirmed that gas hydrate occurs at high saturations within reservoir-quality sands in the GOM. A comprehensive logging-while-drilling dataset was collected from seven wells at three sites, including two wells at the Walker Ridge 313 site. By constraining the saturations and thicknesses of hydrate-bearing sands using logging-while-drilling data, two-dimensional (2D), cylindrical, r-z and three-dimensional (3D) reservoir models were simulated. The gas hydrate occurrences inferred from seismic analysis are used to delineate the areal extent of the 3D reservoir models. Numerical simulations of gas production from themore » Walker Ridge reservoirs were conducted using the depressurization method at a constant bottomhole pressure. Results of these simulations indicate that these hydrate deposits are readily produced, owing to high intrinsic reservoir-quality and their proximity to the base of hydrate stability. The elevated in situ reservoir temperatures contribute to high (5–40 MMscf/day) predicted production rates. The production rates obtained from the 2D and 3D models are in close agreement. To evaluate the effect of spatial dimensions, the 2D reservoir domains were simulated at two outer radii. The results showed increased potential for formation of secondary hydrate and appearance of lag time for production rates as reservoir size increases. Similar phenomena were observed in the 3D reservoir models. The results also suggest that interbedded gas hydrate accumulations might be preferable targets for gas production in comparison with massive deposits. Hydrate in such accumulations can be readily dissociated due to heat supply from surrounding hydrate-free zones. Special cases were considered to evaluate the effect of overburden and underburden permeability on production. The obtained data show that production can be significantly degraded in comparison with a case using impermeable boundaries. The main reason for the reduced productivity is water influx from the surrounding strata; a secondary cause is gas escape into the overburden. The results dictate that in order to reliably estimate production potential, permeability of the surroundings has to be included in a model.« less
  • We have developed a 3D methane hydrate reservoir simulator to model marine methane hydrate systems. Our simulator couples highly nonlinear heat and mass transport equations and includes heterogeneous sedimentation, in-situ microbial methanogenesis, the influence of pore size contrast on solubility gradients, and the impact of salt exclusion from the hydrate phase on dissolved methane equilibrium in pore water. Using environmental parameters from Walker Ridge in the Gulf of Mexico, we first simulate hydrate formation in and around a thin, dipping, planar sand stratum surrounded by clay lithology as it is buried to 295mbsf. We find that with sufficient methane beingmore » supplied by organic methanogenesis in the clays, a 200x pore size contrast between clays and sands allows for a strong enough concentration gradient to significantly drop the concentration of methane hydrate in clays immediately surrounding a thin sand layer, a phenomenon that is observed in well log data. Building upon previous work, our simulations account for the increase in sand-clay solubility contrast with depth from about 1.6% near the top of the sediment column to 8.6% at depth, which leads to a progressive strengthening of the diffusive flux of methane with time. By including an exponentially decaying organic methanogenesis input to the clay lithology with depth, we see a decrease in the aqueous methane supplied to the clays surrounding the sand layer with time, which works to further enhance the contrast in hydrate saturation between the sand and surrounding clays. Significant diffusive methane transport is observed in a clay interval of about 11m above the sand layer and about 4m below it, which matches well log observations. The clay-sand pore size contrast alone is not enough to completely eliminate hydrate (as observed in logs), because the diffusive flux of aqueous methane due to a contrast in pore size occurs slower than the rate at which methane is supplied via organic methanogenesis. Therefore, it is likely that additional mechanisms are at play, notably bound water activity reduction in clays. Three-dimensionality allows for inclusion of lithologic heterogeneities, which focus fluid flow and subsequently allow for heterogeneity in the methane migration mechanisms that dominate in marine sediments at a local scale. Incorporating recently acquired 3D seismic data from Walker Ridge to inform the lithologic structure of our modeled reservoir, we show that even with deep adjective sourcing of methane along highly permeable pathways, local hydrate accumulations can be sourced either by diffusive or advective methane flux; advectively-sourced hydrates accumulate evenly in highly permeable strata, while diffusively-sourced hydrates are characterized by thin strata-bound intervals with high clay-sand pore size contrasts.« less
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