Hydrocarbon Resources Program

Guiding the optimal recovery of hydrocarbons while simultaneously minimizing environmental impacts

The Hydrocarbon Resources Program focuses on developing the understanding of the basic concepts and methodologies governing the coupled processes and associated phenomena involved in resource development and production. EESA scientists work to develop improved understanding of the basic concepts and processes governing multiphase non-isothermal flow in subsurface porous/fractured media during hydrocarbon production under challenging conditions.

Key to this work is understanding the associated coupled hydrological, thermal, geomechanical, geophysical, chemical, and biological processes. EESA translates this fundamental knowledge into production methods and strategies that industry could adopt to optimize production and minimize environmental impacts. Our primary focus is on unconventional resources including tight/shale gas, shale oil, and gas from methane hydrate. Efficient, clean production of hydrocarbon resources is critical, as these resources are expected to provide a majority of the nation’s energy supply for the foreseeable future. 

Support for the Hydrocarbon Research Program comes from the DOE’s Fossil Energy and Hydrate Research Programs, international research organizations such as the Korean Institute of Geosciences and Mineral Resources, and from national and international energy companies.

See our Hydrocarbon Resources Program website.

Recent science & program advances

  • Continuous development and improvement of simulators that include gas hydrate-related processes and  tight oil-and-gas-specific physics, chemistry, and geomechanics (TOUGH: Suite of Simulators for Nonisothermal Multiphase Flow and Transport in Fractured Porous Media)
  • Developed a repeatable method for investigation of enhanced oil recovery processes in shale
  • Developed a fundamental understanding of water behavior and water blocking in gas shales
  • Developing a method to strengthen ductile shales to allow propping
  • Simulated gas production from a thin, large gas hydrate bearing reservoir in the Gulf of Mexico
  • Simulated gas production from hydrate-bearing reservoirs for nearly all field tests globally to guide the field tests
  • Developed a sub-voxel measurement technique for geomechanical measurements of hydrate-bearing sands
  • Developed workflow for pairing GEOS codes (Lawrence Livermore National Lab) and TOUGH codes (Berkeley Lab) with multi-scale observations to better understand the stimulation and production of the Hydraulic Fracturing Test Site in the Permian Basin

Relevant Projects

Shale Hydrate
  • Behavior of Sediments Containing Methane Hydrate, Water, and Gas Subjected to Gradients and Changing Conditions
  • Advanced Simulation and Experiments of Strongly Coupled Geomechanics and Flow for Gas Hydrate Deposits: Validation and Field Application
  • Berkeley Lab–Korean Institute of Geosciences and Mineral Resources Collaboration: Investigation of the Gas Production Potential of Hydrate Deposits in the Korean East Sea
  • An International Code Comparison Study on Coupled Thermal, Hydrologic, and Geomechanical Processes of Natural Gas Hydrate-Bearing Sediments
  • Numerical Studies for the Characterization of Recoverable Resources from Methane Hydrate Deposits


EESA benefits from rich partnerships with our collaborators and sponsors. See project & program links above for more information.

Publication Highlights

Simplified Green‐Ampt Model, Imbibition‐Based Estimates of Permeability, and Implications for Leak‐off in Hydraulic Fracturing. Water Resources Research, 2020

Adsorption and Capillary Condensation-Induced Imbibition in Nanoporous Media. ACS Publications, 2019

Water saturation relations and their diffusion‐limited equilibration in gas shale: Implications for gas flow in unconventional reservoirs. Water Resources Research, 2017

Laboratory In-Situ Visualization of Long-Term Fracture Closure and Proppant Embedment in Brittle and Ductile Shale Samples. 53rd U.S. Rock Mechanics/Geomechanics Symposium, 2019

Laboratory Visualization of Hydraulic Fracture Propagation Induced by Variable-Rate Fluid Injection Within Analogue Rock Samples Containing Preexisting Fractures. 51st US Rock Mechanics/Geomechanics Symposium, 2017

Flow of Gas and Liquid in Natural Media Containing Nanoporous Regions. Chapter 13, Shale: Subsurface Science and Engineering, 2019

Laboratory Studies to Investigate Subsurface Fracture Mechanics. Chapter 15, Hydraulic Fracture Modeling, 2018

Cryogenic fracturing of wellbores under true triaxial-confining stresses: experimental investigation. SPE Journal, 2018

Cross-scale molecular analysis of chemical heterogeneity in shale rocks. Scientific Reports, 2018

Identifying chemicals of concern in hydraulic fracturing fluids used for oil production. Environmental Pollution, 2017

The Use of the Bimodal Production Decline Curve for the Analysis of Hydraulically Fractured Shale/Tight Gas Reservoirs. Unconventional Resources Technology Conference, 2018

Integrated simulation of vertical fracture propagation induced by water injection and its borehole electromagnetic responses in shale gas systems. Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering, 2018

Numerical simulation of diverse thermal in situ upgrading processes for the hydrocarbon production from kerogen in oil shale reservoirs. Energy Exploration & Exploitation, 2017

Laboratory system for studying cryogenic thermal rock fracturing for well stimulation. Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering, 2017

Assessing the geomechanical stability of interbedded hydrate-bearing sediments under gas production by depressurization at NGHP-02 Site 16. Marine and Petroleum Geology, 2019

Depressurization‐induced fines migration in sediments containing methane hydrate: X‐ray computed tomography imaging experiments. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 2018

Evaluation of hydrocarbon broaching after subsurface containment failure, Gulf of Mexico. AAPG Bulletin, 2020

Evaluation of the performance of the oceanic hydrate accumulation at site NGHP-02-09 in the Krishna-Godavari Basin during a production test and during single and multi-well production scenarios. Marine and Petroleum Geology, 2019

India National Gas Hydrate Program Expedition 02 summary of scientific results: Numerical simulation of reservoir response to depressurization. Marine and Petroleum Geology, 2019

Simulation of Gas Production from Multilayered Hydrate-Bearing Media with Fully Coupled Flow, Thermal, Chemical and Geomechanical Processes Using TOUGH + Millstone. Part 1: Numerical Modeling of Hydrates. Transport in Porous Media, 2019

Simulation of Gas Production from Multilayered Hydrate-Bearing Media with Fully Coupled Flow, Thermal, Chemical and Geomechanical Processes Using TOUGH+Millstone. Part 2: Geomechanical Formulation and Numerical Coupling. Transport in Porous Media, 2019

Simulation of Gas Production from Multilayered Hydrate-Bearing Media with Fully Coupled Flow, Thermal, Chemical and Geomechanical Processes Using TOUGH+Millstone. Part 3: Production Simulation Results. Transport in Porous Media, 2019

System response to gas production from a heterogeneous hydrate accumulation at the UBGH2-6 site of the Ulleung basin in the Korean East Sea. Journal of Petroleum Science & Engineering, 2019

Transport and fate of natural gas and brine escaping from a hydrocarbon reservoir through a failed deepwater well in the oceanic subsurface of the Gulf of Mexico. Transport in Porous Media, 2018

Fast parametric relationships for the large-scale reservoir simulation of mixed CH4-CO2 gas hydrate systems. Computers & Geosciences, 2017

Experimental investigation of gas flow and hydrate formation within the hydrate stability zone. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 2018

Pore habit of methane hydrate and its evolution in sediment matrix–Laboratory visualization with phase-contrast micro-CT. Marine and Petroleum Geology, 2019

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