Lynn…especially along the Gulf of Mexico coast with the USA and the East Coast of the USA we have
huge deposits of Methane Hydrates…some liken them to ice, but that’s not how they are formed. It’s
methane gas compressed and held under tremendous pressure by the sand of the bottom of the sea where it becomes a semi-solid crystalline structure. IF the pressure on the methane hydrate suddenly
lessens…it will suddenly sublime…go from a solid to a gas nearly instantaneously with possible
It does not migrate down along fissures in the ocean floor to thin hot areas of the separation of the plastic mantle rock to the crust, but a well drilled down vertically or horizontally into a pocket of methane
hydrates will trigger massive sublimation of the hydrates and blow the drill string out of the hole…where
the drill pipe impacting the substructure and derrick of the rig sets off sparks that ignite the methane
gas. That’s what happened on that well in the Gulf 20 years ago that killed all those people, burned for
a long time until it could be squeezed off by sea floor control valves. Made quite an ecological mess, too.
I’ve drilled into methane hydrates in the western Permian basin at quite shallow depths…2000 to 2600
feet in the old ‘played out’ Yates gas formation. You have to keep the accumulator fully charged
on the blowout preventer so you can hit the snap close valve and run like hell in that case upwind
of the well. But, it IS controllable IF you take the right precautions and watch your indicator tattletales.
That’s the difference between a real driller and a wannabe. The real driller is always alert and protecting the lives of his men. The men, in turn protect their driller by spelling him on the operator
stand when he gets too tired and needs a break. Usually the derrick hand will spell the driller, but sometimes it’s the motorman.
But, anyway, methane hydrates can occur along the coast, out in the middle of the GOM, or in the
stacked shale play formations of the interior of the USA. I’ve never known of methane hydrates occurring in the interior of the USA along with high concentrations of hydrogen sulfide…but it IS
possible and a massive sublimation would spread deadly concentrations of H2S hydrogen sulfide
gas much faster than you can run away upwind. And H2S collects in low spots because it is heavier
than air…making it very dangerous in hilly terrain.
Hope that helps some explaining methane hydrates. By the way, Jeff Bezos’ Space X rocket engines
use liquid oxygen to burn liquified Methane…part of the NGLs (natural gas liquids) from the gas wells
of the Permian and Delaware basins.
Ol’ Lawrence in Verhalen, Reeves county, Tx