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Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton

Research project: Comprehensive assessment of the social, environmental and economic viability of gas hydrate commercialisation - Dormant

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Gas hydrate is an unconventional form of natural gas with massive energy potential. To become a commercial reality, any gas hydrate development must be economically sound, with limited environmental and social impacts, but no holistic evaluation mechanism for gas hydrate projects exists.


The primary objectives of this project are:

  1. Understand social, environmental and economic factors influencing the future potential development of gas hydrate.
  2. Develop a mutually exclusive, collectively exhaustive protocol for commercial gas hydrate development.
  3. Refine existing gas hydrate modelling to better consider natural heterogeneity, defining the production range in any location.
  4. Meet stakeholders to understand their priorities and how these influence the future of gas hydrate development.
  5. Evaluate gas hydrate development in a series of global settings.


We review all available literature on gas hydrate development, and the evaluation of conventional energy projects, to understand and structure the potential impacts from a commercial gas hydrate project. From this review we create our own, gas hydrate-specific, evaluation protocol.

For numerical modelling, we use the TOUGH+Hydrate simulation code to simulate production on a series of heterogeneous distributions of gas hydrate.

Fieldwork has been conducted in Alaska, where gas hydrate development technology has historically been tested. In meeting with stakeholders we discuss potential future development and quantify their priorities.

Conventional development at the Prudhoe Bay oilfield, Alaska
Conventional development at the Prudhoe Bay oilfield, Alaska

Funding dates:

September 2016 – December 2019

Funding Provider:

Leverhulme Trust

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