Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) published “Japan's Methane Hydrate R&D Program” in July, 2001. The Research Consortium for Methane Hydrate Resources in Japan was established in March, 2002, to carry out the Program. Phase 1 of the Program finished successfully in March, 2009, and was changed over to second phase. In Eastern Nankai Trough area, methane hydrate in pore-filling type was found in 1999. Features of methane hydrat formations were emerged by the METI Exploratory test wells in 2004. Concentrated zones of methane hydrate were found in turbidite sand layers. A lot of core samples containing hydrate were recovered with pressure-temperature core sampler (PTCS). A method of extraction of the concentrated zones of methane hydrate from seismic data was obtained by analysis of wire-line, core, and seismic data. Estimation of in-place of methane gas in hydrate formation in Eastern Nankai Trough area was carried out using a volumetric method through probabilistic approach. The total in-place of methane gas in the area amounted to about 1 trillion m3 as a mean value. High-pressure - low-temperature laboratories were established to investigate properties of natural and synthetic core samples of methane hydrate formations and carry out production tests using these core samples under in-situ environmental conditions. A numerical simulator “MH21-HYDRES” was developed for predicting methane gas production from hydrate formations. Methane production tests at hydrate formations were carried out twice in the Mackenzie Delta in Canada with international collaboration. In the second test in March, 2008, gas was produced continuously for 6 days with depressurization method from a perforation interval of 12 m in the hydrate formation. A cumulative gas production of the test amounted to about 13,000 m3. The test was interrupted under an agreement of the test period.
Better reservoir knowledge and increasingly sensitive technologies are making the production of unconventional natural gas economically viable and more efficient. This efficiency is bringing tight gas, coal-bed methane, and shale gas into the reach of more companies around the world. Especially, natural gas production from hydrocarbon rich shale formations, known as “shale gas”, is one of the most rapidly expanding trends in onshore domestic oil and gas exploration and production in the United States today. In some areas, this has included bringing drilling and production to regions that have seen little or no activity in the past. The lower 48 states have a wide distribution of highly organic shale containing vast resources of natural gas. The total recoverable gas resources in five shale -gas plays (the Barnett, Haynesville, Fayetteville, Marcellus, and Woodford) may be over 500 Tcf. Total annual production volumes of 3 to 5 Tcf may be sustainable for decades. This potential for production in the known onshore shale basins, coupled with other unconventional gas plays, is predicted to contribute significantly to the U. S.'s domestic energy outlook. No commercial shale-gas projects currently exist outside the U. S., but work continues to identify both new shale-gas reservoirs and to add incremental shale-gas production in existing reservoirs.
While it is becoming more and more difficult to find new conventional oil fields, the importance of extra-heavy oil in Venezuela and bitumen in Canada has been increasing. Recently, there were two remarkable events occurred in Orinoco development in Venezuela. One is the reserve evaluation project based on inter-government agreements. Some groups have created joint venture companies with PDVSA to enter into development phase after the reserve evaluation work. The other event was the first competitive bidding for Carabobo area development. Two projects were awarded as a result of the bidding process including the project led by Chevron with the participation of JOGMEC, Mitsubishi Corporation and INPEX Corporation. Orinoco development has an advantage over oil sand development in Canada in terms of lower production cost because cold production is the standard method due to relatively low viscosity of oil. However, the severe and unstable investment climate in Venezuela is making it difficult for foreign oil companies to invest in big projects. The development of oil sand in Canada will grow steadily if high oil price continues and appropriate measures are taken to minimize environmental impacts such as carbon dioxide emission, land damage and byproduct disposal. The development of extra-heavy oil in Orinoco, Venezuela can be called as “Frontier” even though certain improvements in investment environment are required to encourage new project startups.
In recent years, there are fewer and fewer oil and gas fields that can be found and developed easily and cheaply (these oil/gas fields are referred to as “conventional oil/gas fields”). On the other hand, world hydrocarbon consumption has been increasing gradually and it is expected to continue to grow for the next 20 years or longer. In order to meet increasing hydrocarbon demands, it is inevitable to develop hydrocarbons from the fields that were considered difficult from technical and/or economical points of views in the past (these oil/gas fields are referred to as “unconventional oil/gas fields”). “Technology” is one of the key factors for finding and developing unconventional oil/gas fields efficiently and economically. In this paper, some of the latest technologies that are used to find and develop unconventional hydrocarbons, particularly, in deep water, heavy oil, tight gas, and coal bed methane will be described.
Offshore petroleum resource of China development value has been recognized as very high. While Chinese oil companies, has promoted the development of offshore oil field, mainly shallow place (500m or less). Offshore petroleum development plans in the future, has submitted plans to implement in earnest the development of deepwater oil field. In this paper, the status of offshore oil development technology in China, discusses the development trends of present deepwater oil field development, especially to be expected for future offshore oil development.