Japanese Companies Band Together To Test Methane Hydrates

  • Date: 03/10/14
  • Sara Stefanini, Interfax Natural Gas Daily

A group of 11 Japanese companies have formed a joint venture to conduct production tests of offshore methane hydrates – an unconventional resource seen as a potential game changer for the world’s largest LNG importer.

Led by Japan Petroleum Exploration (Japex) and starting with a capital contribution of ¥300 million ($2.8 million), Japan Methane Hydrate Operating Co. (JMH) will provide contractor services and carry out field operations during the medium- and long-term production tests sponsored by the government.

The JV partners will each share their expertise and technology to support the exploration and testing, JMH said in its first press release on Wednesday.

“A substantial quantity of methane hydrate is estimated to be in the offshore areas around Japan. Serving as a new domestic energy source, with the potential to make a major contribution to a stable national energy supply for Japan, technological development is necessary for its commercialisation, including the establishment of production technologies,” the company said.

The Japanese government successfully produced the world’s first methane hydrates in March 2012, after drilling an experimental well in the offshore Nankai Trough and carrying out a production test that exceeded expectations (see Japan flows hydrates in landmark offshore test, 12 March 2013).

That was followed two months later by a steady flow of gas from methane hydrates in Alaska’s North Slope, which a partnership between the United States Department of Energy (DOE), ConocoPhillips and Japan’s state-run JOGMEC called a “successful, unprecedented test of technology”.

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