Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC) has confirmed offshore production of methane from methane hydrate layers under the Daini-Atsumi Knoll (seamount) in the eastern Nankai trough off the coast of central Japan.
|Conceptual diagram of the first offshore methane hydrate production test. Source: METI. Click to enlarge.|
Although the first offshore production test is not commercial production and is very much an experimental research operation, JOGMEC said, it marks a milestone in the R&D of methane hydrate as a resource. Valuable data, including the dissociation behavior of methane hydrate under the sea floor, impact to the surrounding environment, and so on, will be obtained through the testing.
If the production test is successful at the end, JOGMEC will proceed with a second offshore production test (Phase 2) and establish the technological platform toward future commercial production (Phase 3), which is scheduled from FY2016 until FY2018.
Methane hydrate is an ice-like material in which methane molecules and water molecules combine and form under the condition of high pressure and low temperature.
Japan initiated its Methane Hydrate R&D Program in 2001, beginning seismic surveys and exploitation drillings in the eastern Nankai trough.
The methane hydrate in place in that area is equivalent to approximately 40 tcf (approximately 1.1 trillion m3) of methane—equivalent to around eleven years of the amount of LNG imported into Japan.
Methane hydrate concentrated zones, the zones where methane hydrate is concentrated and which are expected to be possible targets for future resource development, occupy one-sixth of the total area and contain the amount of methane hydrate equivalent to approximately 20 tcf of methane gas, which is a half of the total amount of methane hydrate in place. However, usable resource amount is depending on the amount to be practically recovered.