--> Gas Hydrate Potential In Malaysia – Catching Up To Compete With Shale Gas Potential In Malaysia

AAPG Asia Pacific Region GTW, Back to the Future – The Past and Future of Oil and Gas Production in the Asia Pacific Region

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Gas Hydrate Potential In Malaysia – Catching Up To Compete With Shale Gas Potential In Malaysia


Gas hydrate is crystalline solids that consist of hydrocarbon gases which bounds with water molecules. The most common gas hydrate is methane hydrate. It is sometimes referred as “flammable ice”. Its molecular structure controls the physical properties and its stability. Gas hydrates are most common in polar permafrost areas and the upper hundreds of meters of sub-sea floor sediments on the continental margins at water depths greater than about 500m (Goh et. al., 2017). The main controlling factors for the gas hydrate accumulations are the gas source and reservoir’s temperature and pressure. As Kvenvolden (1993, 1998) documented that one cubic meter of dissociated gas hydrate is equivalent to 164 m3 of gas released at normal atmospheric pressure, it reflects that gas hydrates may represent a significant potential energy resource. It is estimated to be double the resource of fossil fuel energy (USGS). As the gas hydrate was discovered in 1881, many countries have initiated and progressively conducted research on gas hydrate (Amit et.al., 2015). Started with many issues in terms of lockage in drilling pipe, the research has started with understanding on how gas hydrates form. The research has then expanded to understanding physical and chemical properties, identifying gas hydrate occurrences from seismic, resource estimation, inhibitors for natural gas hydrates formation, production technologies and eventually assessing its potential for commercial projects. Throughout the research journey, many countries have changed their perspective on gas hydrate as potential energy source. Countries are now committed to study and prove the ability to develop gas hydrate fields. China and Japan are among the countries than had performed production test on its gas hydrates field. Recent work in one selected focus area, offshore NW Sabah, Malaysia, has indicated the gas hydrates occurrences in the water depth range of 1150 to 2700m. The water depth of Sabah area is in the range of 200 to more than 2000km depth. Based on the finding, the minimum water depth of 600m is required for generation of gas hydrates in Sabah and generally the gas hydrate deposit in Sabah area is located between 250 and 350m below seafloor, depending on the heat flow and water depth. The minimum water depth estimate matches perfectly with the published results from other areas in tropical and subtropical environments. Preliminary resource assessment conducted from the seismic data has shown that methane hydrate has high prospectivity which trigger detail prospectivity study. This estimate is higher than the preliminary resource estimates of shale gas resources in Malaysia. By utilizing the recently acquired Multiclient 3D seismic in Sabah, more gas hydrates potential is believed to be identified as justifiable prospect. The lesson learnt from other countries on gas hydrate development program planning shall be captured in order to mature gas hydrate prospectivity in Malaysia. Gas hydrates have its own advantage in drilling and production technology as existing technology in drilling and producing conventional hydrocarbon resources can be leveraged. It does not require reservoir fractures and/or extensive steam injection to produce the gas. This provides better project cost management and optimization. It is known that Unconventional resource exploitation is highly dependent on the leveraging efficiencies and creativity to reduce the cost. However, the other challenges in gas hydrates exploitation which are identifying and quantifying the gas hydrates prospects, production response, sand entry during production and wellbore stability remains as the key areas that needs more understanding.