Umberta Tinivella

Helle Botnen


Environmental challenges


WG 3 will review the environmental challenges associated with methane production from gas hydrates. Environmental risks are moderate compared to other deep-water operations since gas hydrates and the associated formation fluids do not contain toxic substances. Moreover, blow-outs are not a concern since gas hydrate deposits have low in-situ pressures and are maintained at or below hydrostatic pressure during the entire production process. However, gas hydrates can constitute environmental risks by affecting seafloor stability and releasing methane into the water column. Sediments deposited at continental slopes are in some cases stabilized by gas hydrates cementing the grain fabric. Gas production from these deposits may induce slope failure causing severe damage to seabed installations and benthic ecosystems and methane gas emissions into the marine environment. Leakage of methane gas may also occur during the production process since the overburden sealing the gas hydrate deposits from the marine environment has a thickness of only a few hundred meters. WG 3 aims to define an environmentally sound monitoring strategy and assess whether the legal framework regulating the exploitation of offshore oil and gas deposits needs to be adjusted to account for the specific environmental risks associated with the gas production from hydrates. To achieve the aims of WG 3 its participants will:


  • assess how slope stability may be compromised by gas production from hydrates under different geological boundary conditions (in cooperation with WG2)
  • identify suitable precursors for slope failure to be targeted in a monitoring program
  • develop a generic strategy for environmental baseline studies and the environmental monitoring of gas production from hydrates 
  • develop a specific environmental baseline and monitoring program for the planned production test
  • evaluate whether national legal frameworks regulating offshore oil & gas production are appropriate for gas production from hydrates using Norway as a case study



Download here the first report of WG 3