WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — Thanks to a joint effort from the U.S. Geological Survey and the government of India, large and highly enriched accumulations of natural gas in the Bay of Bengali on India’s eastern coast have been discovered.

The program, officially named the Indian National Gas Hydrate Program Expedition, is the second of its kind, but the first in which a discovery of producible gas has been found in the Indian Ocean.

The first expedition, also a partnership between scientists from India and the United States, discovered gas hydrate accumulations, but in formations that are currently unlikely to be producible.

“Advances like the Bay of Bengal discovery will help unlock the global energy resource potential of gas hydrates as well help define the technology needed to safely produce them,” said Walter Guidroz, USGS Energy Resources Program coordinator, adding, “The USGS is proud to have played a key role on this project in collaboration with our international partner, the Indian Government.”

The USGS added the discovery is the result of the most comprehensive gas hydrate field venture the world has seen to date, comprised of scientists from the U.S., Japan and India. The scientists conducted ocean drilling, conventional sediment coring, pressure coring, downhole logging and analytical activities to assess the geologic occurrence, regional context and characteristics of gas hydrate deposits in the offshore of India.

“The results from this expedition mark a critical step forward to understanding the energy resource potential of gas hydrates,” said USGS Senior Scientist Tim Collett, who participated in the expedition. “The discovery of what we believe to be several of the largest and most concentrated gas hydrate accumulations yet found in the world will yield the geologic and engineering data needed to better understand the geologic controls on the occurrence of gas hydrate in nature and to assess the technologies needed to safely produce gas hydrates.”

While it is possible to produce natural gas from gas hydrates, there still remain several technical challenges, depending on the location of the discovery and the type of formation. Previous studies have shown that gas hydrate at high concentrations in sand reservoirs is the type of occurrence that can be most easily produced with existing technologies.

Because of this, the second expedition focused the exploration and discovery of highly concentrated gas hydrate occurrences in sand reservoirs. Gas hydrates discovered during the second go-around were located in coarse-grained sand-rich depositional systems in the Krishna-Godavari Basin and are made up of a sand-rich, gas-hydrate-bearing fan and channel-levee gas hydrate prospects. The next steps for research will involve production testing in these sand reservoirs to determine if natural gas production is practical and economic.

Natural gas hydrates are a natural occurring, and the amount of gas within the world’s gas hydrate accumulations is estimated to greatly exceed the volume of all known conventional gas resources.

The international team of scientists was led by the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited of India on behalf of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas India, in cooperation with the USGS, the Japanese Drilling Company, and the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology. In addition, USGS is working closely with the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology Japan on the analysis of pressure core samples collected from sand reservoirs with high gas hydrate concentrations.