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What Should We Know About Methane Hydrate Explosions?

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 After the Bramson/Gore press conference , I plugged in "carbon sequestration." Carbon sequestration lead me to Enhanced Oil Recovery, mud volcanoes and gas hydrates.  These keywords lead me to a story about a Enhanced Oil Recovery trial in the Frio briny aquifer in Texas, in 2004, whereby the scientists tested to see what was going on in the briny aquifer. The story was entitled "Possible Snag in Carbon Sequestration Plans."

Snag was an understatement. It seemed the EOR brew dramatically dropped the PH of the briny aquifer, and the brew began to eat everything in sight to produce a toxic, muddy mess of dissolved sandstone, metals and gasses. The gas produced after all the chemical reactions was mostly methane.  The sandstone was what the scientists were counting on to hold the gas CO2) in the earth. They feared that the mess might migrate to fresh water sources, or that the mess would burst forth upon the land. The bursting forth upon the land part sounded like the description of a mud volcano to me.

There was another story on line about Azerbaijan's Lobaktan mud volcano. The Petrogeologist said it was discovered my Marco Polo. It seemed like an attempt to rewrite history. I left my computer and went to libraries and book stores. Marco Polo saw no mud volcanoes. He only saw oil seeps. Homer the Greek saw only oil seeps. The Azerbaijan mud volcano erupted in 1887, only after fifty years of oil production.  The three hundred volcanoes the country has now were not there in 1887.
The only other historical reference I could find in old books on the subject of travel, or oil exploration, or oceanography -was a paper written by a Dutch Petrogeologist in 1939, quantifying and codifying every flora, fauna, and geological feature in what is now Indonesia and Malaysia. He saw mud volcanoes in one area, on land, in the area that his predecessors, the Japanese and the Chinese had been using for oil exploration, since 1889, a country also, like Azerbaijan, that began oil exploration early. Early oil men, the old books I found on the history of oil exploration said, looked for oil seeps, not mud volcanoes, when they were prospecting for oil; there is no mention of mud volcanoes. There is mention in books on early off shore exploration of looking for bulging shale.
It seems that disturbed oil and gas produces mud volcanoes and gas hydrates, and EOR would, based on the Frio results, make it worse. The final two stories I read were on the Hydrate ridge, the huge hissing mountain of hydrates off Oregon's coast. It seems it was discovered after fisherman were over heard talking about an area of their fishing haunts that had started to constantly bubble, where it had never bubbled before. 
The kicker was discovering that the biggest oil producer of all, Saudi Arabia, will not use chemicals in its oil exploration efforts; they only use water.  There is a slide show on line from September 2006, presented to Saudi Aramco, to address beginning the chemical EOR, it address their stated concerns and the tests they want done first.

 

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Retired ('92)after working for every Administration since Truman, with the exception of the last 3 administrations. Mainlining golf is a major addiction, along with grandchildren, travel, great books and the leisure to really absorb it all. A (more...)
 

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