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Title: Structural and Stratigraphic Controls on Methane Hydrate occurrence and distribution: Gulf of Mexico, Walker Ridge 313 and Green Canyon 955: Final Report

Abstract

The goal of this project was to determine structural and stratigraphic controls on hydrate occurrence and distribution in Green Canyon (GC) 955 and Walker Ridge (WR) 313 blocks using seismic and well data. Gas hydrate was discovered in these blocks in coarse- and fine-grained sediments during the 2009 Joint Industrial project (JIP) Leg 11 drilling expedition. Although the immediate interest of the exploration community is exclusively hydrate which is present in coarse–grained sediments, factors that control hydrate and free gas distribution in the two blocks and whether coarse and fine-grained hydrate-bearing units are related in any manner, formed the core of this research. The project spanned from 10/01/2012 to 07/31/2016. In the project, in both the leased blocks, the interval spanning the gas hydrate stability zone (GHSZ) was characterized using a joint analysis of sparse Ocean Bottom Seismic (OBS) and dense, surface–towed multichannel seismic (MCS) data. The project team had the luxury of calibrating their results with two well logs. Advance processing methods such as depth migration and full-waveform inversion (FWI) were used for seismic data analysis. Hydrate quantification was achieved through interpretation of the FWI velocity field using appropriate rock physics models at both blocks. The seismic modeling/inversion methodologymore » (common to both GC955 and WR313 blocks) was as follows. First, the MCS data were depth migrated using a P-wave velocity (VP) model constructed using inversion of reflection arrival times of a few (four in both cases) key horizons carefully picked in the OBS data to farthest possible offsets. Then, the resolution of the traveltime VP model was improved to wavelength scale by inverting OBS gathers up to the highest frequency possible (21.75 Hz for GC955 and 17.5 for WR313) using FWI. Finally, the hydrate saturation (or the volume fraction) was estimated at the well location assuming one of the other hydrate morphology (filling the primary or the secondary porosity) was extrapolated out from the wells using the FWI VP as a guide. General outcomes were as follows. First and foremost, an imaging methodology using sparse seismic data, which is easily replicable at other sites with similar datasets, has been demonstrated. The end product of this methodology at both the leased blocks is quantitative estimates of hydrate distribution. Second, at both locations there is strong evidence that the base of the GHSZ, which does not appear as a clear Bottom Simulating Reflection (BSR), manifests in the VP perturbations created by FWI, suggesting that FWI is sensitive to subtle compositional changes in shallow sediments and establishes it as a valuable tool for investigations of hydrate-bearing basins. Third, through joint interpretation of the depth migrated image and the FWI VP model, how structure and stratigraphy jointly determine hydrate and free gas distribution in both blocks could be clearly visualized. The joint interpretation also suggests that the coarse and fine grained hydrate-bearing sediments at both leased are connected. Site specific results, in addition to general results, are as follows. At GC955 the overlying fine-grained hydrate-bearing unit could have been sourced from the underlying hydrate coarse-grained channel-levee complex through a chimney feature. The channel-levee system at GC955 is compartmentalized by faults, of which only a few may be impermeable. Although compartmentalized, the channel-levee system in the GC955 as a whole might be in communication except selected zones. At WR313 the overlying fine-grained fracture-filled hydrate unit appears to be sourced from below the GHSZ. The reason that only a particular fine-grained unit has hydrate, despite having lower porosity that the bounding units, could be the presence of secondary porosity (such as those formed from clay dewatering under compaction). In conclusion, the project was a pioneering effort in in joint analysis of OBS and MCS datasets for advancing the knowledge about a hydrate and free–gas system dynamics using advanced processing methods such as FWI and depth migration. Results obtained in this project can greatly advance the tools and techniques used for delineating specific hydrate prospects. Results obtained in this project can also be seamlessly incorporated into other DOE funded project on modeling the potential productivity and commercial viability of hydrate from sand-dominated reservoirs. The OBS and MCS data in this project were acquired in 2012 (after the JIP II drilling) by the USGS and therefore the results are a posteriori. Nonetheless, the seismic inversion workflow established through this project can be used to generate various what-if quantification scenarios even in absence of logs and serve as a valuable tool for guiding drilling operations. Results from this project can augment other DOE sponsored projects on determining the commercial viability of methane production from the Gulf of Mexico.« less

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1]
  1. Oklahoma State Univ., Stillwater, OK (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Oklahoma State Univ., Stillwater, OK (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Fossil Energy (FE), Oil and Natural Gas (FE-30)
OSTI Identifier:
1417193
Report Number(s):
OKSTATE-DOE-0009904
DOE Contract Number:
FE0009904
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
03 NATURAL GAS; Gas Hydrate; Gulf of Mexico

Citation Formats

Jaiswal, Priyank. Structural and Stratigraphic Controls on Methane Hydrate occurrence and distribution: Gulf of Mexico, Walker Ridge 313 and Green Canyon 955: Final Report. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.2172/1417193.
Jaiswal, Priyank. Structural and Stratigraphic Controls on Methane Hydrate occurrence and distribution: Gulf of Mexico, Walker Ridge 313 and Green Canyon 955: Final Report. United States. doi:10.2172/1417193.
Jaiswal, Priyank. 2017. "Structural and Stratigraphic Controls on Methane Hydrate occurrence and distribution: Gulf of Mexico, Walker Ridge 313 and Green Canyon 955: Final Report". United States. doi:10.2172/1417193. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1417193.
@article{osti_1417193,
title = {Structural and Stratigraphic Controls on Methane Hydrate occurrence and distribution: Gulf of Mexico, Walker Ridge 313 and Green Canyon 955: Final Report},
author = {Jaiswal, Priyank},
abstractNote = {The goal of this project was to determine structural and stratigraphic controls on hydrate occurrence and distribution in Green Canyon (GC) 955 and Walker Ridge (WR) 313 blocks using seismic and well data. Gas hydrate was discovered in these blocks in coarse- and fine-grained sediments during the 2009 Joint Industrial project (JIP) Leg 11 drilling expedition. Although the immediate interest of the exploration community is exclusively hydrate which is present in coarse–grained sediments, factors that control hydrate and free gas distribution in the two blocks and whether coarse and fine-grained hydrate-bearing units are related in any manner, formed the core of this research. The project spanned from 10/01/2012 to 07/31/2016. In the project, in both the leased blocks, the interval spanning the gas hydrate stability zone (GHSZ) was characterized using a joint analysis of sparse Ocean Bottom Seismic (OBS) and dense, surface–towed multichannel seismic (MCS) data. The project team had the luxury of calibrating their results with two well logs. Advance processing methods such as depth migration and full-waveform inversion (FWI) were used for seismic data analysis. Hydrate quantification was achieved through interpretation of the FWI velocity field using appropriate rock physics models at both blocks. The seismic modeling/inversion methodology (common to both GC955 and WR313 blocks) was as follows. First, the MCS data were depth migrated using a P-wave velocity (VP) model constructed using inversion of reflection arrival times of a few (four in both cases) key horizons carefully picked in the OBS data to farthest possible offsets. Then, the resolution of the traveltime VP model was improved to wavelength scale by inverting OBS gathers up to the highest frequency possible (21.75 Hz for GC955 and 17.5 for WR313) using FWI. Finally, the hydrate saturation (or the volume fraction) was estimated at the well location assuming one of the other hydrate morphology (filling the primary or the secondary porosity) was extrapolated out from the wells using the FWI VP as a guide. General outcomes were as follows. First and foremost, an imaging methodology using sparse seismic data, which is easily replicable at other sites with similar datasets, has been demonstrated. The end product of this methodology at both the leased blocks is quantitative estimates of hydrate distribution. Second, at both locations there is strong evidence that the base of the GHSZ, which does not appear as a clear Bottom Simulating Reflection (BSR), manifests in the VP perturbations created by FWI, suggesting that FWI is sensitive to subtle compositional changes in shallow sediments and establishes it as a valuable tool for investigations of hydrate-bearing basins. Third, through joint interpretation of the depth migrated image and the FWI VP model, how structure and stratigraphy jointly determine hydrate and free gas distribution in both blocks could be clearly visualized. The joint interpretation also suggests that the coarse and fine grained hydrate-bearing sediments at both leased are connected. Site specific results, in addition to general results, are as follows. At GC955 the overlying fine-grained hydrate-bearing unit could have been sourced from the underlying hydrate coarse-grained channel-levee complex through a chimney feature. The channel-levee system at GC955 is compartmentalized by faults, of which only a few may be impermeable. Although compartmentalized, the channel-levee system in the GC955 as a whole might be in communication except selected zones. At WR313 the overlying fine-grained fracture-filled hydrate unit appears to be sourced from below the GHSZ. The reason that only a particular fine-grained unit has hydrate, despite having lower porosity that the bounding units, could be the presence of secondary porosity (such as those formed from clay dewatering under compaction). In conclusion, the project was a pioneering effort in in joint analysis of OBS and MCS datasets for advancing the knowledge about a hydrate and free–gas system dynamics using advanced processing methods such as FWI and depth migration. Results obtained in this project can greatly advance the tools and techniques used for delineating specific hydrate prospects. Results obtained in this project can also be seamlessly incorporated into other DOE funded project on modeling the potential productivity and commercial viability of hydrate from sand-dominated reservoirs. The OBS and MCS data in this project were acquired in 2012 (after the JIP II drilling) by the USGS and therefore the results are a posteriori. Nonetheless, the seismic inversion workflow established through this project can be used to generate various what-if quantification scenarios even in absence of logs and serve as a valuable tool for guiding drilling operations. Results from this project can augment other DOE sponsored projects on determining the commercial viability of methane production from the Gulf of Mexico.},
doi = {10.2172/1417193},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = 2017,
month = 9
}

Technical Report:

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  • The objective of this project (and report) is to produce a guide to developing scientific, operational, and logistical plans for a future methane hydrate-focused offshore pressure coring program. This report focuses primarily on a potential coring program in the Walker Ridge 313 and Green Canyon 955 blocks where previous investigations were undertaken as part of the 2009 Department of Energy JIP Leg II expedition, however, the approach to designing a pressure coring program that was utilized for this project may also serve as a useful model for planning pressure coring programs for hydrates in other areas. The initial portion ofmore » the report provides a brief overview of prior investigations related to gas hydrates in general and at the Walker Ridge 313 and Green Canyon 955 blocks in particular. The main content of the report provides guidance for various criteria that will come into play when designing a pressure coring program.« less
  • Electrical methods offer a geophysical approach for determining the sub-bottom distribution of hydrate in deep marine environments. Methane hydrate is essentially non-conductive. Hence, sediments containing hydrate are more resistive than sediments without hydrates. To date, the controlled source electromagnetic (CSEM) method has been used in marine hydrates studies. This project evaluated an alternative electrical method, direct current resistivity (DCR), for detecting marine hydrates. DCR involves the injection of direct current between two source electrodes and the simultaneous measurement of the electric potential (voltage) between multiple receiver electrodes. The DCR method provides subsurface information comparable to that produced by the CSEMmore » method, but with less sophisticated instrumentation. Because the receivers are simple electrodes, large numbers can be deployed to achieve higher spatial resolution. In this project a prototype seafloor DCR system was developed and used to conduct a reconnaissance survey at a site of known hydrate occurrence in Mississippi Canyon Block 118. The resulting images of sub-bottom resistivities indicate that high-concentration hydrates at the site occur only in the upper 50 m, where deep-seated faults intersect the seafloor. Overall, there was evidence for much less hydrate at the site than previously thought based on available seismic and CSEM data alone.« 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
  • Coexistence of three methane phases (liquid (L), gas (G), hydrate (H)) in marine gas hydrate systems may occur according to in-situ pressure, temperature, salinity and pore size. In sediments with salinity close to seawater, a discrete zone of three-phase (3P) equilibrium may occur near the base of the regional hydrate stability zone (RHSZ) due to capillary effects. The existence of a 3P zone influences the location of the bottom-simulating reflection (BSR) and has implications for methane fluxes at the base of the RHSZ. We studied hydrate stability conditions in two wells, WR313-G and WR313-H, at Walker Ridge Block 313 inmore » the northern Gulf of Mexico. We determined pore size distributions (PSD) by constructing a synthetic nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) relaxation time distribution. Correlations were obtained by non-linear regression on NMR, gamma ray, and bulk density logs from well KC-151 at Keathley Canyon. The correlations enabled construction of relaxation time distributions for WR313-G and WR313-H, which were used to predict PSD through comparison with mercury injection capillary pressure measurements. With the computed PSD, L+H and L+G methane solubility was determined from in-situ pressure and temperature. The intersection of the L+G and L+H curves for various pore sizes allowed calculation of the depth range of the 3P equilibrium zone. As in previous studies at Blake Ridge and Hydrate Ridge, the top of the 3P zone moves upwards with increasing water depth and overlies the bulk 3P equilibrium depth. In clays at Walker Ridge, the predicted thickness of the 3P zone is approximately 35 m, but in coarse sands it is only a few meters due to the difference in absolute pore sizes and the width of the PSD. The thick 3P zone in the clays may explain in part why the BSR is only observed in the sand layers at Walker Ridge, although other factors may influence the presence or absence of a BSR.« less
  • A permanent observatory has been installed on the seafloor at Federal Lease Block, Mississippi Canyon 118 (MC118), northern Gulf of Mexico. Researched and designed by the Gulf of Mexico Hydrates Research Consortium (GOM-HRC) with the geological, geophysical, geochemical and biological characterization of in situ gas hydrates systems as the research goal, the site has been designated by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management as a permanent Research Reserve where studies of hydrates and related ocean systems may take place continuously and cooperatively into the foreseeable future. The predominant seafloor feature at MC118 is a carbonate-hydrate complex, officially named Woolsey Moundmore » for the founder of both the GOM-HRC and the concept of the permanent seafloor hydrates research facility, the late James Robert “Bob” Woolsey. As primary investigator of the overall project until his death in mid-2008, Woolsey provided key scientific input and served as chief administrator for the Monitoring Station/ Seafloor Observatory (MS-SFO). This final technical report presents highlights of research and accomplishments to date. Although not all projects reached the status originally envisioned, they are all either complete or positioned for completion at the earliest opportunity. All Department of Energy funds have been exhausted in this effort but, in addition, leveraged to great advantage with additional federal input to the project and matched efforts and resources. This report contains final reports on all subcontracts issued by the University of Mississippi, Administrators of the project, Hydrate research activities that both support and derive from the monitoring station/sea-floor Observatory, Mississippi Canyon 118, northern Gulf of Mexico, as well as status reports on the major components of the project. All subcontractors have fulfilled their primary obligations. Without continued funds designated for further project development, the Monitoring Station/Seafloor Observatory is in danger of lapsing into disuse. However, for the present, interest in the site on the continental slope is healthy and The Center for Marine Resources and Environmental Technology continues to coordinate all activity at the MS/SFO as arranged through the BOEM in 2005. Field and laboratory research projects and findings are reviewed, new technologies and tests described. Many new sensors, systems and two custom ROVs have been developed specifically for this project. Characteristics of marine gas hydrates are dramatically more refined than when the project was initiated and include appear in sections entitled Accomplishments, Products and Publications.« less