Gabrielle Wojtowitz, University of Southampton. This paper was first published in GE’s December 2011 issue.
With the world’s energy demand increasing daily in the midst of climate change concerns, alternative cleaner energy sources are required. Methane gas hydrates are an untapped resource of natural gas. Due to their wide geographical distribution and the estimated staggering magnitude of this resource, methane gas hydrates have stimulated significant international interest due to their potential as a future energy resource, but furthermore as a geotechnical hazard for offshore operations related to hydrocarbon recovery.
Methane gas hydrates are ice-like crystalline solids composed of water and natural methane gas that can only exist under specific thermobaric conditions of low temperature and high pressure restrictions. Due to these conditions, gas hydrates naturally occur in submarine sediments or in on-shore sediments in permafrost regions (Kvenvolden, 1993).