Laboratory investigations on hydrate formation and dissociation in sediments – analogies and differences to natural systems

Tuesday, 16 December 2014: 10:38 AM
Judith Maria Schicks, Erik Spangenberg, Mike Priegnitz, Katja U Heeschen, Jan Thaler and Sven Abendroth, Helmholtz Centre Potsdam GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Potsdam, Germany
In natural sediments changes in pressure and temperature may induce the dissociation of naturally occurring gas hydrates. The dissociation of the solid hydrates as well as the increase of a gas phase due to hydrate dissociation may cause or facilitate geo hazards such as slope failure [1]. Therefore, the understanding of hydrate distribution, dissociation and (re-) formation processes which in turn may alter the geomechanical properties of the sediments are of great importance for the prediction on hydrate behavior. During the last decades both, hydrate formation and dissociation, have been studied manifold in laboratory experiments to get a better understanding of these processes. However, the experimental set ups and chosen conditions such as pressure, temperature, sediments, and water saturation vary significantly and do not always simulate natural systems. Within the German national project SUGAR we developed a large LAboratory Reservoir Simulator LARS to study hydrate behavior in sediments. LARS has a total volume of 425 L and has been successfully equipped with an electrical resistivity tomography (ERT). The hydrates form from methane saturated saline water in absence of a free gas phase. Measurements of the dissolved methane at the sample in- and outlet together with temperature monitoring at different locations inside the sediment and ERT measurements are used to describe and characterize the formation process. The ERT and temperature measurements allow for a detection of spatial differences. It could be shown that in this laboratory simulation hydrate forms as it is assumed for natural scenarios. Dissociation processes induced by pressure decrease or temperature increase as well as the consecutive migration of gases and fluids were also studied. To complete the understanding of decisive factors on hydrate formation and fluid flow we investigated the influence of grain sizes on hydrate formation and the influence of hydrate saturation on permeability. In this contribution we present the experimental set up and discuss the results with regard to the analogies and differences to natural systems.

[1] Jürgen Mienert, Maarten Vanneste, Stefan Bünz, Karin Andreassen, Haflidi Haflidason, Hans Petter Sejrup, Marine and Petroleum Geology 22 (2005) 233–244.