Japan has announced what it believes to be a world first, the production of natural gas from offshore methane hydrate deposits.
Methane hydrates are a very underdeveloped, under-investigated source of energy, although experts suggest that there may be twice as much energy in methane hydrates around the world than in all other types of fossil fuels; what this would mean for the environment is still unknown.
Japan has invested hundreds of millions of dollars on offshore methane hydrate exploration over the past decade or so, and it seems as though it is about to finally pay off.
The Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry revealed that a team aboard the drilling ship Chikyu had started extracting gas from a methane hydrate deposit around 80 kilometres off the south coast of the Atsumi Peninsula in central Japan.
Takami Kawatomo, a spokesman for Japan Oil, Gas & Metals National Corp., the state-run company leading the operation, said that “Japan could finally have an energy source to call its own.”
The extraction trials will continue for about two weeks to determine the viability of larger scale projects in the future. Japan hopes to develop commercially viable extraction technology within five years.
By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com