Business / Economy

Test-drilling for oil starts in Sea of Japan off Sado


The energy agency said Monday it has started test drilling for oil in a Sea of Japan location that could turn out to be one of the largest oil and natural gas deposits in the country.

It is the first time in about nine years that Japan has conducted test drilling for oil and gas at the government’s initiative. The operation started Sunday and will continue for about three months.

The Natural Resources and Energy Agency said the project is taking place about 30 km southwest of Sado Island in Niigata Prefecture to drill a well up to 2.7 km below the seabed.

The deep-sea drilling ship Chikyu (Earth) is being used in the project. The vessel also participated in a recent trial to extract natural gas from a next-generation energy source called methane hydrate below the Pacific seabed off central Japan.

The Sea of Japan project has been contracted out to JX Nippon Oil & Gas Exploration Corp. and Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp.

The energy agency said it plans to estimate the extent of oil and natural gas deposits at the location through the investigation.

JX Nippon said the deposits could amount to the size of a medium-size oil field in the Middle East.