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Oil & Natural Gas Supply


Research on methane hydrates has focused on discovering the potential of a vast energy resource unknown until the 1980s. Methane hydrates represent an untapped natural gas resource, which has been estimated to hold more than twice the global reserves of conventional oil, gas and coal deposits combined.  Methane hydrate is found in crystal form in Arctic permafrost areas and deep continental margin deposits. The U. S. Department of Energy began a research and development plan in 2000, and has joined in offshore and arctic research with Canada and Japan. Methane hydrate compounds are crystalline solids containing methane molecules trapped in water molecules. Methane hydrates are stable in offshore sediments greater than 300 meters, and surface permafrost sediments several hundreds of meters thick. Early research concentrated on locating potential methane hydrate resources.  The current research target is development of drilling and engineering technologies to efficiently extract methane hydrate and produce this valuable resource.

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Technology Tidbit of the MonthJapan looks to Methane Hydrates to Save the Country from Energy Dependency

With limited natural resources and a stalled nuclear power industry, Japan sees offshore methane hydrates as a major source of energy in the future. "Japanese calculations suggests the resources-poor country has enough supply just off its coasts to meet the economic superpower's energy needs for the next 100 years." Japanese government sources say the study area in the Sea of Japan off of Honshu Island holds sufficient methane hydrates to supply all of Japan's natural gas needs for 14 years. State-owned Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC) is currently conducting successful methane hydrate drilling. However, it is planned that "private companies will take over once test drilling finishes sometime between 2016 and 2018."


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