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  HOME | Oil & Energy (Click here for more)

Japan Restarts Production Test of Offshore Methane Hydrate

TOKYO – Japan restarted extracting methane, an experimental energy source that the Asian country aims to develop commercially over the next decade, from methane hydrate deposits offshore the country’s central coast.

It is the first production test of its kind since 2013, when Japan became the first country in the world to extract natural gas from offshore deposits.

Japanese researchers had began the test production in early May but were forced to stop as large quantities of sand flowed into the well, according to the Japanese Ministry of Energy, Commerce and Industry.

Similar production tests, conducted in the 1.3 kilometer (0.8 miles) deep well on the coasts of Aichi and Mie prefectures in central Japan, were also suspended due to the influx of sand.

Since June 5, however, Japanese scientists were able to fix the issue and extract gas from offshore deposits once again.

Currently, their biggest challenge is refining the technology to allow for stable extraction of the gas, according to the ministry.

Drilling a well on the seabed for the extraction is hugely expensive and Japan has budgeted around 20 billion yen ($180 million) for such offshore production tests.

Japan imports almost all of its energy sources and to reduce this dependence has set a target of producing natural gas commercially with the help of this method between 2023-2027.

The Japanese Agency for Natural Resources and Energy has found geological structures suggesting sufficient undersea deposits of natural gas – including Methane hydrate, a natural gas generated in frozen form from water and methane and is trapped in the ice below the seabed or frozen permanently – for Japan to last at least a decade.

Methane is considered a promising source of energy for Japan, as well as for other countries such as India, Canada, the United States or China, who are also looking to explore it as an alternative energy source.

 

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