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Large Methane Hydrate Deposits Likely In Sea Of Japan

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The Asahi Shimbun

Vast reserves of methane hydrate, a possible next-generation fuel for this resource-poor country, are believed to lie under the Sea of Japan, the industry ministry said Aug. 27.

Known as “fiery ice,” methane hydrates are comprised of methane gas and water that lie on or beneath the seafloor in the form of a solid similar to ice. They produce methane gas during decomposition.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said a survey turned up 225 sites with geographical features suggesting reserves of methane hydrate in waters off Joetsu, Niigata Prefecture, as well as the Noto Peninsula.

The Asahi Shimbun

The Asahi Shimbun

More detailed test drilling is planned from next fiscal year for the sites that showed promise.

Starting in June, the ministry surveyed 8,000 square kilometers of ocean floor in waters off Joetsu as well as 6,000 square kilometers off the Noto Peninsula.

The survey discovered a number of sites where gas was spewing from natural seafloor structures called “gas chimneys,” indicating the presence of methane hydrate reserves.

The ministry plans to expand its survey perimeter in the Sea of Japan, ranging all the way from Hokkaido to waters off the Oki islands in Shimane Prefecture, by the end of fiscal 2015.

In March, Japan, the first nation ever to do so, extracted natural gas from methane hydrate deposits in Pacific waters off the Atsumi Peninsula in Aichi Prefecture.

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