Abstract

Large amounts of natural gas, composed mainly of methane, can occur in arctic sedimentary basins in the form of gas hydrates under appropriate temperature and pressure conditions. Gas hydrates are solids, composed of rigid cages of water molecules that trap molecules of gas. These substances are regarded as a potential unconventional source of natural gas because of their enormous gas-storage capacity. Most published gas hydrate resource estimates are highly simplified and based on limited geological data. The gas hydrate resource assessment for northern Alaska presented in this paper is based on a "play analysis" scheme, in which geological factors controlling the accumulation and preservation of gas hydrates are individually evaluated and risked for each hydrate play. This resource assessment identified two gas hydrate plays; the in-place gas resources within the gas hydrates of northern Alaska are estimated to range from 6.7 to 66.8 trillion cubic metres of gas (236 to 2,357 trillion cubic feet of gas), at the 0.50 and 0.05 probability levels respectively. The mean in-place hydrate resource estimate for northern Alaska is calculated to be 16.7 trillion cubic metres of gas (590 trillion cubic feet of gas). If this assessment is valid, the amount of natural gas stored as gas hydrates in northern Alaska could be almost seven times larger then the estimated total remaining recoverable conventional natural gas resources in the entire United States.

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