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One Step Closer to Harvesting the Abundant Reserves of Methane Hydrates

The world of natural gas may be in for a big change; in fact the whole energy world could change.

Methane hydrates are the most abundant source of fossil fuel in the world. They consist of a crystalline structure in which methane molecules are trapped amongst an arrangement of water molecules. They are found under the Arctic permafrost, and in ocean sediments along nearly every continental shelf in the world.

According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Journal of Research, global reserves of gas hydrates have been conservatively estimated to surpass more than double those of all remaining petroleum and natural gas reserves.

In April the US Department of Energy worked with a consortium if international oil and gas companies to complete a two month test in the North Slope of Alaska to prove that a steady flow of methane could be extracted from the hydrates under the sea floor.

“This test was the first ever field trial of a methane hydrate production methodology whereby CO2 was exchanged in situ with the methane molecules within a methane hydrate structure . . . The prior longest-duration field test of methane hydrate extraction via depressurization was six days [and took place in Canada's Malik formation in 2008].”

The test proved successful, and now the DoE has plans to fund additional projects which will attempt long-term production tests.

The test used a technology that was developed by ConocoPhillips and the University of Norway, whereby a mixture of carbon dioxide and nitrogen was injected into the hydrate to encourage the release of methane molecules.

By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com



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  • Robert Marston on September 12 2012 said:
    Irresponsibility, multiplied by ignorance, compounded by stupidity.

    The climate can't handle the fossil fuels we have now. More than doubling the amount we burn would set the world on track for a devastating 1000 ppm + CO2.

    We need the hydrates about as much as we need a shot in the head.

    DOE, oil companies. It's time to go elsewhere with your money. This stuff is too dangerous.
  • r davidson on September 12 2012 said:
    Very interesting! There is a lot of methane ice around, but it has always been a very dangerous material to work with or around.

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