Pore-scale water–gas distribution and gas permeability of natural gas hydrate reservoirs in the South China Sea

Yuxuan Xia, Derek Elsworth, Jianchao Cai, Cheng Lu, Chao Ma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Challenges in water drainage within natural gas hydrate reservoirs in the Shenhu area of the South China Sea, characterized by high clay content and strong hydrophilicity, significantly hinder natural gas recovery. Examining the effects of gas pressure and liquid/gas saturation on gas permeability reveals essential insights for increasing gas production potential. We report gas displacement experiments on clayey-silt sediment samples, alongside X-ray computed tomography imaging, that reveal critical findings: a notable increase in flow rate and permeability as displacement pressure nears compaction pressure, highlighting the role of pressure management in enhancing recovery; water displacement from varying pore sizes under different pressures, highlighting the influence of pore size on fluid dynamics, and structural changes, including microfracture formation and a significant fracture that enlarges total pore space by about 15%, which collectively suggest methods to improve gas flow and recovery. Moreover, our analysis identifies average throat length, fractal dimension, and succolarity as principal controls on gas permeability, indicating the substantial impact of microstructural properties on extraction efficiency. These outcomes offer valuable strategies for optimizing natural gas hydrate reservoir development in the South China Sea, emphasizing the need for meticulous pressure and saturation control and in applying a deep understanding of microstructural dynamics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101816
JournalGeoscience Frontiers
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences

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