Econintersect: Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp has started drilling for a new energy source, methane hydrate, below the seabed at 1,000 meters depth about 70-80 km off the coast of the Atsumi Peninsula (Aichi Prefecture, east of Osaka) in the Philippine Sea. The deposits under the south central part of japan are estimated to be sufficient to supply more than 10 years of Japan’s natural gas supply needs. It is expected that the initial drilling will be completed this year and that production tests will be run first quarter of 2013. This will be the first commercial attempt to harvest natural gas from methane hydrates. Click on picture for larger image with caption.
From the U.S. Dept. of Energy website:
Methane hydrate is a cage-like lattice of ice inside of which are trapped molecules of methane, the chief constituent of natural gas. If methane hydrate is either warmed or depressurized, it will revert back to water and natural gas. When brought to the earth’s surface, one cubic meter of gas hydrate releases 164 cubic meters of natural gas.
The amount of trapped methane in these frozen structures is estimated to have greater energy potential than all other fossil fuel sources combined. The production technology has yet to be developed to safely and efficiently harvest this material, however.
- Offshore drilling begins for methane hydrate (Japan Times, 16 February 2012)
- Methane Hydrate – The Gas Resource of the Future (U.S. Dept. of Energy website)
Japan Times article found on Econintersect Asia/Pacific newspaper page.