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Japan to test-drill for seabed 'burning ice'

16 Comments

Japan will seek to extract natural gas from seabed deposits of methane hydrate, also known as "burning ice," in the world's first such offshore experiment, a news report said Monday. The test is scheduled for a stretch of ocean southwest of Tokyo, between Shizuoka and Wakayama prefectures, over several weeks in the fiscal year to March 2013, the Nikkei financial daily said.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is preparing to request more than 10 billion yen for the project. The government will support further research and aims for commercial drilling to start early in the next decade, the newspaper said.

Methane hydrates are found in environments with high pressure and low temperatures such as the ocean floors, often near continental faultlines, where the gas crystallizes on contact with cold sea water.

The offshore experiment, if successful, would be the world's first, the Nikkei said. Methane was previously extracted from methane hydrate on land in Canada in 2008 using technology developed in Japan.

Japan has been looking to diversify its energy resources since the powerful March 11 earthquake and tsunami triggered the world's worst nuclear accident in 25 years at the Fukushima Daiichi plant northeast of Tokyo.

Resource-poor Japan relies heavily on energy imports from the Middle East and until recently met one third of its electricity needs with nuclear power, but now plans also to boost renewables such as solar and wind power.

© 2011 Agence France-Presse

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

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The test is scheduled for a stretch of ocean southwest of Tokyo, between Shizuoka and Wakayama prefectures, over several weeks in the fiscal year to March 2013,

I hope the Chinese do not try to claim this seabed as their own. You never know.

4 ( +5 / -3 )

I hope they know what they are doing since the gas is 10x more powerful than hydrocarbon as it relates to global warming. There is now even a theory that a extinction event was related to warming that eventually released the frozen methane from the oceans. That warming even was so fast that it killed 90% of all life in the sea and land since plants and animals could not adapt fast enough to the rising temperatures. Not that I'm say this will cause such an event. Just that we seem to want energy so much that we may be accelerating our own demise. Funny how that works.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Indeed, they should treat this project with more care than they did nukes, and not cut corners in safety to save a little money.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

I hope they know what they are doing since the gas is 10x more powerful than hydrocarbon as it relates to global warming.

Methane is a hydrocarbon.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

If we can stop sending so much$$$$$$$ to Saudi and Iran etc...and also help use this new fuel well maybe in the future shut down all of these bloody nuclear power plants ASAP!!! No more Fukushimas!!!!!

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

The removal of the gas can trigger more earthquakes....but I guess that is not important.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

The removal of the gas can trigger more earthquakes.

No, it can't. This is very shallow gas.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I hope they know what they are doing since the gas is 10x more powerful than hydrocarbon as it relates to global warming. There is now even a theory that a extinction event was related to warming that eventually released the frozen methane from the oceans. That warming even was so fast that it killed 90% of all life in the sea and land since plants and animals could not adapt fast enough to the rising temperatures. Not that I'm say this will cause such an event. Just that we seem to want energy so much that we may be accelerating our own demise. Funny how that works.

The industry isn't interested in surface methane that can easily escape into the atmosphere, which is why they are drilling deep. The pressure and cold temperature produces an ideally stable environment for directing the methane into a pipeline without releasing it into the atmosphere. If they loose the gas they loose their profit. Of course precautions need to be taken, but those same precautions are in the interest of a profitable business model. If some people want to stop energy production they should start by going to live under a rock in the woods like their ancient anscetors. See the article below for more info.

http://www.greeningofoil.com/post/Methane-hydrate-a-future-clean-energy-source.aspx

1 ( +3 / -2 )

The word "Drilling" is misleading since most methane hydrate deposits are lying on the ocean floors and are not buried under the surface. It's more like scooping up or collecting them using a strong vacuum cleaner.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Really though, what is this for except to continue business as usual? They are not spending money on solar and wind if they are spending it on methane hydrates. What's the point if half the energy used in Japan goes to Pachinko and Christmas montage's of blue LED's? Rewarding local conservation efforts would reduce major demand. Most of the waste everywhere is from the last 4km. So conservation actually has a multiplier savings effect. Oh, and stop wrapping individual chips/crackers/biscuits in their own plastic... mkay? How much oil is used just for food packaging? And then all the electricity to run the processing?

BTW, the depths of this are similar to the blowout in the Gulf of Mexico. If it's just digging it might work, but any drilling and under the pressure it's under is a whole new level of danger.

All that because no one can turn off the Pachinko lights. It's getting silly.

What next? We launch orbital solar panels?

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

****ihavegreatlegs is a cynical person. Have you ever do anything for the good of humanity? Buddha blesses you!

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

Buddha blesses you!

also getting thumbs up from JT readers. what a lucky person (even without doing anything for the good of humanity) @cj1959 relax and enjoy JT site.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Is this like fire water?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

ka_chan:

" I hope they know what they are doing since the gas is 10x more powerful than hydrocarbon as it relates to global warming. "

I don´t know how you come up with that. Firstly, Methane is hydrocarbon. Secondly, it does not matter what type of hydrocarbons (or pure carbon, i.e. coal) you burn; since the energy is always created by turning carbon into carbon dioxide, the effect on global warming is the same (that is if you accept the tale of a direct relationship between global warming and CO2 content).

0 ( +2 / -2 )

BTW, the depths of this are similar to the blowout in the Gulf of Mexico. If it's just digging it might work, but any drilling and under the pressure it's under is a whole new level of danger.

Not at all the same depths. This is a research project that has been going on for ages and the risks are well understood.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Bizarre stuff. If you burn a chunk of it, the methane burns off the top while water drips off the bottom.

There's a document detailing Japan's work in this field that was released in 2008 and translated into English the day before the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. You can read it here (.PDF reader required):

http://www.mh21japan.gr.jp/english/wp/wp-content/uploads/ca434ff85adf34a4022f54b2503d86e92.pdf

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

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