NAGOYA – Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp. said Thursday preparatory drilling will start around Feb. 14 in Pacific waters off central Japan for the world’s first seabed methane hydrate production tests early next year.
The government-controlled corporation said it and Japan Petroleum Exploration Co. plan to launch commercial production in fiscal 2018 if the tests prove successful.
Methane hydrate, a sherbetlike substance consisting of methane gas trapped in ice below the seabed or permanently frozen ground, is viewed as a promising next-generation energy source.
“We will proceed with research in a bid to contribute to future natural gas supply,” a JOGMEC official told a press conference.
JOGMEC and Japan Petroleum Exploration will use the deep-sea exploration vessel Chikyu of the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology to drill four wells up to 300 meters below the seabed in 1-km-deep waters 70 to 80 km south of the Atsumi Peninsula, Aichi Prefecture, through late March.
Methane hydrate deposits there are estimated at 1 trillion cu. meters, enough to supply more than 10 years’ worth of natural gas consumed in Japan.
If the production tests to be conducted along with an environmental effects assessment in the first quarter of 2013 are successful, JOGMEC and Japan Petroleum Exploration will conduct additional tests in or after fiscal 2016 to ascertain actual production volume.