TOKYO Dec 2 Japan has discovered methane
hydrate lying over a large area
in the Sea of Japan in northwestern Japan, in addition to
previously discovered areas in the Pacific Ocean, the trade
The government plans to spend the next three years trying to
determine the nation's reserves of methane hydrate - a frozen
gas known as "flammable ice" - as part of its goal to achieve
commercial production within six years.
A geological survey in June and July confirmed 225 "gas
chimney" structures off Joetsu and Noto Peninsula, which likely
contain methane hydrate, the ministry said. The survey also
confirmed shallow methane ice forming over a large area within
one of the structures.
In March, Japan succeeded in producing 120,000 cubic meters
of gas over six days from a test tapping of methane hydrate in
the Pacific Ocean off Aichi Prefecture in central Japan.
Since 2001, Japan, which imports nearly all of its energy
needs, has invested several hundred million dollars in
developing technology to tap methane hydrate reserves that are
estimated to be equal to about 11 years of its gas consumption.
(Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori; Editing by Richard Pullin)