London and South of England Evening Meeting – Offshore Naturally Occurring Methane Hydrates Possible Development Options

14 May, 2015


Chairman:  Alex Hunt, Technology Director, Woodview Technology Limited

Methane hydrate deposits are known to exist in both onshore permafrost regions and subsea in water depths exceeding 500 metres. However, there is still considerable uncertainty over both the locations of these deposits and the volume of methane that may be trapped.  The total amounts of trapped methane are still unclear but current estimates are well in excess of all known conventional fossil fuels discovered to date.

Pilot production wells have been drilled and tested onshore in Alaska and Siberia. Then, in 2013, the first pilot production well was drilled and tested offshore Japan. However, no commercial exploitation is currently planned.  One option under consideration is to inject CO2 into hydrate accumulations and displace the methane, both leaving the CO2 in place and reducing the risks posed by dissociation.

Two teams of Cranfield University students were presented with the challenge of identifying technically feasible development options for offshore hydrate deposits and recommending options for future commercial consideration.  Both mature and frontier locations were to be used as case studies to highlight any major differences.  This was set as a Group Project that forms part of the M.Sc. in Offshore and Ocean Technology with Subsea Engineering and has been run as a design competition between the two teams.

Each team was set the following scope of work:

  • Identify the potential volume of methane in hydrates worldwide and the known locations of significant subsea deposits

  • Select one mature and one frontier location for use as case studies

  • Identify possible production technologies and key technical challenges

  • Create a set of development options

  • Assess each option based on strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats

  • Recommend and select one option for each location for further consideration

  • Define these options in more detail

Project Team:  Abdulsalam Abdulkarim, Chukwuma Emmanuel Onwufuju, Kanayochukwu Samuel Eka, Kayode Yaya, Millinson Chiedu Ehinze, Omololu Adefeso, Sylvester Amkpa & Vincenzo Cucumazzo
The winning team will present their findings, conclusions and recommendations.

Dr. Fuat Kara, Offshore and Ocean Technology Course Director, Cranfield University
Group and individual projects and reviews offer benefits to both industry and academia. The elements required for successful collaborations will be discussed, along with current focus areas.