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DOE to award up to $20M for further studies on methane hydrates; projects worth up to $80M

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a funding opportunity announcement for up to $20 million (DE-FOA-0001023) for applications for selection and award in FY 2014 that focus on the (1) methane hydrate reservoir-response field experiments in Alaska; and (2) field programs for marine gas hydrate characterization. DOE anticipates that individual total project values may be up to $80 million depending on the number of awards, complexity, duration, and level of recipient cost share. 

These projects are to support program goals and represent a critical component of advancing several of the specific mandates previously established for the Methane Hydrate Program under the Methane Hydrate Act of 2000 (as amended by Section 968 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005).

Methane hydrate—molecules of natural gas trapped in a cage of frozen water molecules—represents a potentially vast methane resource for both the United States and the world. Recent discoveries of methane hydrate in Arctic and deep-water marine environments have highlighted the need for a better understanding of methane hydrate as a natural storehouse of carbon and a potential energy resource.

The volume of methane held in methane hydrate deposits worldwide is immense. A frequently quoted estimate of the global methane hydrate resource is 20,000 trillion cubic meters, or about 700,000 trillion cubic feet. As two points of comparison, total US proved natural gas reserves were 322.7 trillion cubic feet at the end of 2012, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). The Oil and Gas Journal says that Russia holds the world’s largest natural gas reserves, with 1,688 trillion cubic feet (Tcf), as of 1 January 2013.

In addition, methane is itself a potent greenhouse gas, remaining in the atmosphere for about a decade before it is converted to carbon dioxide.

The methane hydrate Funding Opportunity Announcement seeks projects in FY14 that will:

  • conduct scientific field tests in Alaska to further the understanding of the long-term response of gas hydrate occurrences to controlled destabilization via depressurization and other complimentary approaches; and

    better characterize naturally-occurring gas hydrate deposits on the US Outer Continental Shelf via multi-site deepwater marine drilling, logging, and/or sampling programs.
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    DOE is looking for projects that will conduct field-based scientific evaluation programs that industry is not likely to pursue on its own accord in the near term (2-3 years) in the absence of public funding.

    The FOA specifies two technical topic areas:

    • Extended Duration Testing of Arctic Gas Hydrate Deposits. DOE is seeking projects that will conduct field operations to evaluate the occurrence, nature, and extended-duration response of gas hydrate accumulations in Arctic regions to destabilization via depressurization and other complimentary approaches. Field programs on the Alaska North Slope, including those areas beyond the existing Prudhoe Bay infrastructure area—and in particular, those areas recently set aside by the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (oil and gas set-aside tracts)—will be considered highly preferred.

      DOE expects projects under Topic Area 1 to be highly leveraged (significant recipient cost share) and structured with separate phases (performance periods) based on the proposed research approach.

      DOE anticipates that projects proposed will consist, at minimum, of an initial planning phase (including activities designed to evaluate and satisfy all applicable state land access and permitting requirements); a geophysical and/or geologic characterization phase; and a field-based testing phase.

    • Field Programs for Marine Hydrate Characterization. This area seeks field programs that will collect in situ data and samples (e.g., cores) in marine gas-hydrate-bearing sediments. Proposed projects that investigate documented or interpreted occurrences of gas hydrate within the highest potential areas of the US Lower-48 Outer Continental Shelf will be considered highly preferred.

      DOE expects projects under Topic Area 2 to be structured with separate performance periods based on the proposed research approach. For example, it is anticipated that projects proposed may consist of a minimum of a site selection phase, an operational planning phase, and a field execution and analysis phase.

    DOE anticipates making 1-4 awards under this announcement depending on the size of the awards.




If we don't capture the CO2, we're cooked.


As the oceans warm and the ice caps melt, more methane hydrates will melt and release the methane to the atmosphere. This is a feedback to global warming that makes it worse. In other words, there could be a point where the earth warms to a temperature high enough to increase methane release from hydrates, and that could be a larger influencer of earths temperature than what is put in by man. Then we are toast! Everyone will get to see their God, so happy days are ahead as we all meet one of the Gods, you just better hope you picked the correct one. By the way, most people are wrong about God, since no one religion has a majority of followers, thus, most people who believe in God are going to hell because they picked the wrong religion.


... assuming that there actually is a hell, which some religions don't have.

I'm in no mind to repeat the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum either.


"programs that industry is not likely to pursue on its own accord in the near term (2-3 years) in the absence of public funding"

There we have it, governments do what private sector can't or won't that need to be done. When the government is in debt due to war and trickle down tax breaks, we can not do what needs to be done and we slip backwards.

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