• 3 minutes China has *Already* Lost the Trade War. Meantime, the U.S. Might Sanction China’s Largest Oil Company
  • 7 minutes Saudi and UAE pressure to get US support for Oil quotas is reportedly on..
  • 11 minutes China devalues currency to lower prices to address new tariffs. But doesn't help. Here is why. . . .
  • 15 minutes What is your current outlook as a day trader for WTI
  • 11 hours Long Range Attack On Saudi Oil Field Ends War On Yemen
  • 4 hours Maybe 8 to 10 "good" years left in oil industry * UAE model for Economic Deversification * Others spent oil billions on funding terrorism, wars, suppressing dissidents * Too late now
  • 8 hours Will Uncle Sam Step Up and Cut Production
  • 15 hours In The Bright Of New Administration Rules: Immigrants as Economic Contributors
  • 13 mins 'No - Deal Brexit' vs 'Operation Fear' Globalist Pushback ... Impact to World Economies and Oil
  • 1 min Domino Effect: Rashida Tlaib Rejects Israel's Offer For 'Humanitarian' Visit To West Bank
  • 5 mins CLIMATE PANIC! ELEVENTY!!! "250,000 people die a year due to the climate crisis"
  • 23 hours Gretta Thunbergs zero carbon voyage carbon foot print of carbon fibre manufacture
  • 1 day NATGAS, LNG, Technology, benefits etc , cleaner global energy fuel
  • 24 hours Continental Resource's Hamm wants shale to cut production. . . He can't compete with peers.
  • 3 hours Trump vs. Xi Trade Battle, Running Commentary from Conservative Tree House
  • 2 days Significant: Boeing Delays Delivery Of Ultra-Long-Range Version Of 777X
  • 2 days Why Oil is Falling (including conspiracy theories and other fun stuff)
Alt Text

Corn Industry Battered By Shocking Ethanol Decision

The administration just issued a…

Alt Text

The 5 Hottest Gold Stocks Of 2019

Bullish signs are mounting for…

Alt Text

OPEC Turns Bearish On Oil

In its latest monthly report,…

Tsvetana Paraskova

Tsvetana Paraskova

Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews. 

More Info

Premium Content

Can ‘Fire Ice’ Solve Japan’s Energy Problem?

Resource-challenged Japan, the world’s top LNG importer, the third-largest oil consumer and net importer, and the third biggest coal importer, is estimated to have spent an additional annual average of around $30 billion for fossil fuel imports in the three years following the Fukushima disaster, after which the country suspended all of its nuclear power generation.

Japan has been studying for years the potential recovery of one resource lying in its seabed – methane hydrate – also known as ‘fire ice’ or ‘flammable ice’. Methane hydrate is a cage-like structure of crystallized ice, inside of which are trapped molecules of methane, the chief constituent of natural gas. If methane hydrate is either warmed or depressurized, it reverts back to water and natural gas.

In March 2013, two years after the Fukushima disaster, Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC) carried out the first methane hydrate offshore production test in the Japan Eastern Nankai Trough, successfully extracting 20,000 cubic meters (706,300 cubic feet) per day on average for six days.

Now, Japan’s trade ministry said on Monday that it had started preparing to carry out a second production test to extract methane gas from gas hydrates with two wells. The test is expected to continue for a combined four to five weeks, according to officials at the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI). Related: Did The Banks Just Give U.S. Shale A Carte Blanche?

In February, a ministry official told Platts that the test would begin sometime around late April, with the goal to have the tests run non-stop for up to one month. The trial will test the decreasing pressure system at the Daini-Atsumi Knoll in the eastern Nankai Trough, and would aim to evaluate the feasibility of stably producing gas from methane hydrate with the decreasing pressure system for a certain period. The ultimate goal is to ascertain whether the output could go commercial-scale in the future, according to the trade ministry’s official.

Japan hopes that it can start commercial production of gas from methane hydrates by 2023, the EIA says in its country profile of Japan.

According to METI officials who spoke to Reuters, the timeline for commercial production is somewhere between 2023 and 2027, but this time frame could still be a challenge because there are a lot of hurdles and problems yet to solve.

According to Yuki Sadamitsu, Director of the Oil and Gas Division at METI’s Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, Japan has allocated $180 million (20 billion yen) to fund the methane hydrate trial.

Japan is advancing with its methane hydrate trials, but it may really find feasible and stable commercial production a big challenge despite the huge gas hydrate reserves.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), global estimates vary, but the energy content of methane in hydrates is “immense, possibly exceeding the combined energy content of all other known fossil fuels”. Nonetheless, one can only speculate about production volumes because no methane production other than small-scale field experiments has been documented so far.

In Japan, JOGMEC has estimated that the Japan Eastern Nankai trough holds 1.1 trillion cubic meters (38.85 trillion cubic feet) of methane hydrates, which Reuters calculates as equal to 11 years of Japan’s gas consumption. Related: Oil Heads Higher As Iran And Saudi Arabia Draw On Reserves

Despite the fact that global gas hydrate reserves hold enormous potential and may become a game-changer for countries poor in natural resources such as Japan, there are technical difficulties and potential dangers in trying to access and unlock the gas from its iced cage.

A BBC analysis from 2014 pointed to two dangers in making methane hydrates commercially exploitable: the danger of damaging and destabilizing the seabed due to the high pressure, and methane escape, with methane thought to be a much more damaging greenhouse gas than CO2.

So, Japan (as well as the U.S. and Canada that are also studying methane hydrates) needs not only technological breakthroughs, but also a lot more investments in environmental studies, and a lot more tests of producing gas from the ‘fire ice’.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

More Top Reads From Oilprice.com:




Download The Free Oilprice App Today

Back to homepage


Leave a comment

Leave a comment




Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News
Download on the App Store Get it on Google Play