BP Exploration (Alaska) has successfully drilled a research well on the Alaska North Slope in partnership with the US Department of Energy and the US Geological Survey to collect samples and gather knowledge about gas hydrate, a potential long-term unconventional gas energy resource.

The stratigraphic test well enabled BP and the Department of Energy (DOE) to gather core, log, reservoir performance and fluid data from an ice pad location at Milne Point. The drilling began on February 3, 2007 and field teams began pulling hydrate core samples on February 10, 2007. Extensive well logging and wireline formation testing was completed between February 14, 2007 and February 18, 2007. Subsequent data collection and analysis will continue for several months. A report of findings will be released thereafter.

With this project, we have significantly increased our understanding of gas hydrate-bearing formations on the Alaska North Slope, said Scott Digert, BP resource manager and the project’s technical adviser. The results also illustrate the value of collaborative research, he added.

Known deposits of methane hydrate in Alaska and other parts of the world are enormous, BP states. However, the challenge is finding the technology to unlock the energy, to separate the natural gas from the solid gas-water-ice ‘clathrate’ in which it occurs.

The DOE has identified gas hydrate as a research target and funded the estimated $4.6 million cost of drilling the Milne test well. BP contributed seismic data, staffing and program oversight. The on-site coring and data team included scientists from the US Geological Survey, DOE, Oregon State University and an observer from India’s hydrate program.