TOKYO May 8 Japan's trade ministry on Monday
reported success in producing gas last week by extracting
methane gas from methane hydrate deposits offshore Japan's
The tests being run at two different wells are the first
since 2013, when Japan achieved the world's first-ever
extraction of gas from offshore deposits of methane hydrate, a
frozen gas known as "flammable ice".
Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) said
the methane hydrate production tests will continue for a
combined four to five weeks. Japan's first methane hydrate tests
in 2013 ended abruptly after less than a week due to problems
with sand flowing into the well.
Japan, which imports nearly all of its energy sources, has
been aiming to launch private sector commercial production of
methane hydrates by between 2023 to 2027, but METI officials
have said the goal will still be a challenge as many obstacles
remain to be solved.
Japan is the world's top importer of liquefied natural gas
(LNG), and its need for domestic gas resources has become
greater since the Fukushima nuclear crisis in 2011 shut down
most of its nuclear power plants and sharply raised fossil fuel
imports such as LNG and coal.
Methane hydrate is formed from a mixture of methane and
water under certain pressures and conditions. India, Canada, the
United States and China are among the countries also looking at
exploiting hydrate deposits as an alternative source of energy,
the trade ministry said.
A Japanese study has estimated that at least 40 trillion
cubic feet (1.1 trillion cubic meters) of methane hydrates lie
in the eastern Nankai Trough off the country's Pacific coast,
equal to about 11 years of Japanese gas consumption.
(Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori; Editing by Tom Hogue)