Experts at Research Institute of Petroleum Industry (RIPI), which is the main center of research and exploration for gas hydrates in Iran, say that each cubic meter of gas hydrate generates as much thermal value as 164 cubic meters of gas. Common technologies used for recovery from these resources may be costlier than technologies used for recovering from conventional resources; however, the cost-effectiveness of gas hydrate recovery becomes known when conventional resources go on the decline. Touraj Behrouz, head of Upstream Industry Research and Development Division of RIPI, has said good achievements have been made in modelling, studies and lab activities in both conventional and conventional fields.
Studies on gas hydrate started more than a decade ago under the aegis of cooperation between RIPI and NIOC Directorate of Exploration. Along with leading companies and research institutes in the world, Iran has understood the significance of this issue.
Over recent years, Iran has achieved the technical know-how to produce various gas hydrate in a semi-continuous process, which is considered the first pilot project in the world with a unique single-stage production method, without needing water-hydrate separator systems and granulation systems. It has been successfully launched to produce semi-industrial scale hydrate. This pilot includes two pressurized semi-industrial reactors and equipped with cooling systems and advanced controllers and is also capable of producing various types of crushed gas hydrates with a high capacity of stored gas.
Based on the objectives set forth in the 7th National Development Plan, this technology would be used in the field of development and commercialization of kinetic inhibitors of gas hydrate, production and consumption of natural gas hydrate in demand response as an alternative fuel, application of hydrate technology in seawater desalination and fresh water supply to ports, removal of carbon dioxide and in enhanced oil recovery.
Over the past years, with the growth of technologies in the world, many countries have been able to commercialize the technical know-how associated oil and gas shales, and now, in light of the importance of gas in the world, many reputable companies are looking to commercialize the technical knowhow of gas hydrate. Fortunately, Iranian researchers started their research in the field of hydrate at the right time, and Iran could be considered one of the leading countries in the field of hydrate-related technologies.
Exploration of gas hydrate resources in the Gulf of Oman in Iran has been carried out in cooperation with Amir Kabir University of Technology and Tehran University’s Technology Park to conduct seismic testing, and so far geological studies have been carried out and a 200-meter onshore catwalk well has been drilled to identify and explore gas hydrates in the coastal areas adjacent to the Gulf of Oman.
Investigation and verification of the relation between geological units, thermodynamic investigation of the possibility of formation of gas hydrate sources in the Gulf of Oman, projection of the type of gas in the gas hydrate network, conceptual seismic modeling and finally reprocessing of seismic data are among the other measures carried out in this regard. The hydrocarbon reserve of gas hydrates in the world is equivalent to 300 times conventional resources combined.
The project to study gas hydrates in the Gulf of Oman was successfully completed by RIPI in 2014. This project was unique in its kind and for the first time about unconventional deposits, of which gas hydrates are an example. Based on the estimates of gas hydrates in the Gulf of Oman, drilling a well in the deep waters of the Gulf of Oman in the coming years can help increase information about the resources in this area.
Meantime, oil shale exploration in Kavir Kuh and Qali Kuh has been completed, the Gulf of Oman gas hydrate exploration project will soon enter the second phase, and the gas shale exploration project is 80% complete. According to the director of exploration of National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), hydrocarbon reserves are likely to exist in northeast, towards the Gorgan Plain and Kopet Dagh, when compared with northern areas. Meantime, in light of proven oil reserves in Dasht-e Moghan, development activities should be put on the agenda for this area.
Behrouz, referring to the upstream value chain in the exploration, appraisal, development and production sectors, told “Iran Petroleum”: “We have already started activities in the fields of exploration, development and production, but in the field of evaluation, which has been started in the world in the last decade, this scientific center has entered the fields of studies, modeling and laboratory. Evaluation would help reduce risks associated with technical and investment decision-making in the country’s oil and gas fields.”
“One of RIPI’s projects involves studying the Ahvaz oil field, which is the largest oil field in Iran. Other projects including the complex Rag Sefid, Bibi Hakimieh, Homa, Danan, Azadegan, Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman gas hydrates, improved recovery, production from low-yielding wells, cementing, drilling mud, routine and special tests, reservoir fluid tests, and geochemical exploration are under way at this Division,” he added.
“Specifically in the large fields of Ahvaz, Rag Sefid and Bibi Hakimieh, we are looking for proposals to implement new technologies with a challenge-oriented technological approach,” he said.
Behrouz said RIPI provides a wide range of services including studies, modeling, lab service and drilling products to various companies, adding that the scenarios developed by RIPI are always presented to clients with an economic-technical approach.
Behrouz said an integrated assessment modeling (IAM) project had been carried out in one of the phases of the giant South Pars gas field for the purpose of improving operations and reducing costs. “Implementation of this project in this field would produce significant efficacy,” he added.
He recalled that RIPI has been a leading body in the reclamation of low-yielding and capped wells, adding he has already implemented one project in an oil field in southern Iran.“Due to the presence of nascent knowledge-based companies in reclaiming low-yielding oil wells, RIPI is ready to cooperate with stakeholders in this important issue,” he said.
Behrouz also enumerated other projects including cementing and drilling mud waste prevention in Belal, Aghajari, Danan, Pazanan, Maroun and Masjed Soleyman among other oil and gas fields in the country operated by RIPI.
He also said that RIPI has been involved in assessing unconventional reservoirs since several years ago with work having been done on shale gas, as well as gas hydrate in Lorestan.
“Based on preliminary studies, significant gas hydrate is expected to be there in these reservoirs. In addition to continuing laboratory, modeling, studying and operational activities, we are trying to work in new upstream areas, such as digital core analysis, geophysical processing, smart well, and pilot design and modeling of enhanced oil recovery,” he said.