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information about Fukushima published in English in Japanese media info publiée en anglais dans la presse japonaise

New fuel?

February 4, 2013


Japan begins world's first offshore test mining of methane hydrate




By MARI FUJISAKI/ Staff Writer

Government-affiliated Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp. has begun the world’s first offshore test mining of methane hydrate from seabed layers, in an effort to tap into a potential new fuel resource.

According to the company, the deep-sea drilling vessel Chikyu departed Jan. 28 for the eastern Nankai Trough, 70 kilometers off the Atsumi Peninsula in Aichi Prefecture.

Methane hydrate, known as "burning ice," has been drawing much attention as a possible abundant natural fuel resource.

The company drilled an offshore well last year at a depth of 1,000 meters to a methane hydrate stratum 300 meters under the seabed where the production testing is being conducted.

It now plans to extract natural gas by inserting a pipe into the well and separating methane hydrate into methane gas and water. The extraction will begin as early as March, if the operation goes according to schedule.

The company plans to extract up to 10,000 cubic meters of gas per day over a two-week period.

It is estimated that Japan's coastal waters hold 100 times the amount of natural gas that is used annually in the nation.

The industry ministry also plans to conduct surveys in the Sea of Japan, where the existence of methane hydrate is expected.


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