Gas hydrates in the Ulleung Basin, East Sea of Korea

  • Author(s): Byong-Jae Ryu and Michael Riedel
  • DOI: 10.3319/TAO.2017.10.21.01
  • Keywords: Gas hydrate, Ulleung Basin, Bottom simulating reflector, Seismic blanking zone
  • Citation: Ryu, B.-J. and M. Riedel, 2017: Gas hydrates in the Ulleung Basin, East Sea of Korea. Terr. Atmos. Ocean. Sci., 28, 943-963, doi: 10.3319/TAO.2017.10.21.01
  • Data were analysed to determine the gas hydrate formation potential and indicators
  • Echofacies were analysed to correlate the sedimentary deposits with hydrate indicators
  • The UBGH2 was performed to find gas hydrate-bearing sand layers for production test
Abstract

To develop gas hydrates as a potential energy source, geophysical surveys and geological studies of gas hydrates in the Ulleung Basin, East Sea off the east coast of Korea have been carried out since 1997. Bottom-simulating reflector (BSR), initially used indicator for the potential presence of gas hydrates was first identified on seismic data acquired in 1998. Based on the early results of preliminary R&D project, 12367 km of 2D multichannel reflection seismic lines, 38 piston cores, and multi-beam echo-sounder data were collected from 2000 to 2004. The cores showed high amounts of total organic carbon and high residual hydrocarbon gas levels. Gas composition and isotope ratios define it as of primarily biogenic origin. In addition to the BSRs that are widespread across the basin, numerous chimney structures were found in seismic data. These features indicate a high potential of the Ulleung Basin to host significant amounts of gas hydrate. Dedicated geophysical surveys, geological and experimental studies were carried out culminating in two deep drilling expeditions, completed in 2007 and 2010. Sediment coring (including pressure coring), and a comprehensive well log program complements the regional studies and were used for a resource assessment. Two targets for a future test-production are currently proposed: pore-filling gas hydrate in sand-dominated sediments and massive occurrences of gas hydrate within chimney-like structures. An environmental impact study has been launched to evaluate any potential risks to production.

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