The Department of Energy announced plans to ramp up methane hydrate extraction research after a preliminary test was declared a success Wednesday. Surveys estimate that successful extraction of natural gas from methane hydrates could power America for the next 1,000 years.
U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said the test, which involved removing natural gas from North Slope ice crystals, could lead to a 30 percent reduction in gas prices by 2025. The Department of Energy partnered with ConocoPhillips and the Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation to conduct the test, which commenced February 15 and ended April 10.
Because methane hydrates are found both on and offshore along “nearly every continental shelf in the world,” the Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys said the successful extraction of natural gas from the 3D ice-lattice structures could power America for the next 1,000 years. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) called the successful test a “game-changer” for American energy production.
“Longer-term research is still needed to guarantee soil stability, but the results announced today represent a major step towards unlocking America’s, and especially Alaska’s, nearly inexhaustible supply of methane hydrate energy,” Murkowski said in a press release.
Previously, the longest methane hydrate extraction test lasted only six days: The energy department said the most recent, 30-day field test was a major step in making the process economically viable.
In an effort to build on the groundbreaking research, department officials today announced $6.5 million in FY 2012 funding for further research into methane hydrate extraction methods in the Arctic and U.S. Gulf Coast region.