Japan warms to ‘fire ice’ potential
Japan has moved closer to unlocking a potential new energy source, after a research group extracted methane gas from frozen undersea deposits for the first time.
Japan Oil, Gas & Metals National Corp said on Tuesday it had successfully extracted gas from deposits of methane hydrate, a hyper-abundant mix of frozen water and methane sometimes called “fire ice”. Other countries, including the US and Canada, are also conducting research on methane hydrate, which experts say is at least twice as plentiful as all known reserves of natural gas.
Ryo Minami, director of the oil and gas division at Japan’s Agency for Natural Resources, compared methane hydrate to shale gas, the once-marginal resource which is transforming the US energy market: “Ten years ago, everybody knew there was shale gas in the ground, but to extract it was too costly. Yet now it’s commercialised.”
Methane has previously been extracted from methane hydrate buried deep under Arctic permafrost, but not from ocean deposits. The substance is formed by a combination of high pressures and cold temperatures. To produce usable gas, methane is separated from from a “cage” of ice by sucking out seawater to lower the surrounding pressure. One cubic foot of solid methane hydrate yields about 164 cubic feet of gas.
Dans le passé, j’ai déjà dit que quand le Québec allait enfin se décider à exploiter son gaz de schiste, cette ressource aurait déjà été remplacée depuis longtemps… Je ne blaguais pas…