Baker Hughes announced that it participated in the first successful marine methane hydrate production test well offshore Japan on March 12, 2013.
The test was conducted from a drill ship for the Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC) in the Nankai Trough, approximately 60 km off the southeast coast of Japan, as one of the research activities in Japan’s Methane Hydrate R&D Program.
Baker Hughes provided the completion system for the test well, which was drilled in approximately 1000 m of water into a hydrate formation approximately 300 m below the mud line.
In 2009, Japan Drilling Co., Ltd., which is working for Research Consortium for Methane Hydrate Resources in Japan (also known as MH21), contracted Baker Hughes to conduct an engineering study to design a completion system that would reduce the pressure in the hydrate reservoir enough to break the hydrate down to methane and water, control sand during production, and acquire large amounts of downhole data to be used in subsequent reservoir modeling.
The Baker Hughes system provided for this test well included zero degree centigrade qualification testing of standard products, a gravel-packed lower completion, a specially designed electric submersible pumping (ESP) system, a custom designed dual-string production packer, real-time electronic pressure/temperature and memory gauges, and a distributed temperature-sensing fiber-optic monitoring system.
The ESP system was used to decrease reservoir pressure and included features that separated the methane from the water and enabled them to be pumped to the drill ship through separate production strings.
As a result of the production test, Japan is the first country to have produced methane from hydrate formations below the seabed. MH21 estimates that methane hydrate formations in the eastern Nankai Trough hold as much as 40 Tcf of methane in place.
Commercial production of methane hydrate reserves will require further research and a network of subsea wells.
“Baker Hughes is excited that our technology and expertise played a vital role in this important project,” said Ian Ayling, Baker Hughes Director of Engineering, North Asia. “We look forward to working with JOGMEC on the next phase of their methane hydrate research.”
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