Baker Hughes has revealed its participation in the first successful marine methane hydrate production test well offshore Japan on March 12.
Moreover, the company built the hydrates completion system for the trial . . . a world first.
The test was conducted from a drill ship for the Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC) in the Nankai Trough, approximately 60km off the south-east coast of Japan, as one of the research activities in Japan’s “Methane Hydrate R&D Program”.
As reported in Energy in February this year, the objective of the test is to establish criteria for commercial production of natural gas from the frozen methane hydrate as early as fiscal 2018, as a means of reducing Japan’s dependency on foreign gas imports.
Baker Hughes provided the completion system for the test well, which was drilled in some 1,000m of water into a hydrate formation approximately 300m below the mud line.
It was in 2009, when Japan Drilling Co, 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 reservoir modelling at some future date.
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 40trillion cu.ft of methane in place.
However, commercial production of methane hydrate reserves will require further research and a network of subsea wells.