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Lowrie, A.1, P.A. Dean2, Carol Blanton Lutken3, Erika Geresi3, Tom McGee3 
(1) Consultant, Picayune, MS 
(2) Consultant, Waveland, MS 
(3) University of Mississippi, University, MS

ABSTRACT: Hydrate Exploration and Exploitation within Five Years in the Northern Gulf of Mexico

Existent exploration technologies involving seismic reflection and drilling are sufficient to locate, verify, and map both hydrates and associated free gases. Hydrates have been described along the seafloor and shallow sub-surface of the extensively petroliferous continental margin of the northern Gulf of Mexico. 
The exploitation of hydrates necessitates converting the frozen hydrates into free natural gases or the harvesting of the naturally occurring free gases associated with hydrates with them serving as the gas-trapping mechanism. The exploration objective is to locate and measure the potential reservoir to be exploited. The exploitation objective is to determine the reasonability of removing the natural gas safely. This involves both the safety of the exploiters and the structural integrity of the area being mined A structural collapse could cause a catastrophic release of trapped gases that would impact continental margin stability. Gas-escape to the atmosphere could impact climate. 
Once exploitation is determined to occur, an extensive seafloor and subsurface monitoring system need be emplaced before, during, and after the exploitation phase. The monitoring should include a permanent, preferably 3-D, seismic network and borehole equipped for subsurface monitoring of temperatures and pressures of fluids migrating through the section. Constant monitoring of changes within the continental margin wedge appears to be sufficient to prevent failure and maintain stability and continuity of the reservoir being exploited. Granting accurately determined potential hydrate and free-gas reservoirs accompanied by state-of-the-art monitoring via seismic reflection and boreholes, hydrates can be exploited successfully with present technology within five years.


AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90026©2004 AAPG Annual Meeting, Dallas, Texas, April 18-21, 2004.