Japan consortium extracts 'fire ice' gas from seabed
TOKYO (AFP) - Japan said Tuesday it had successfully extracted methane hydrate, known as "fire ice", from its seabed, possibly unlocking many years' worth of gas for the resource-starved country.
In what they are claiming as a world first, a consortium is drilling for the hydrate, a fossil fuel that looks like ice but consists of very densely-packed methane surrounded by water molecules, one kilometre below sea level.
The solid white substance burns with a pale flame, leaving nothing but water. One cubic m of it is estimated to contain many times the equivalent volume of methane in gas form.
The consortium, led by Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation, began initial work in February last year and on Tuesday started a two-week experimental production, an economy, trade and industry ministry official said.