The Methane Hydrates Revolution: Successful Natural Gas Extraction Test Is A “Game-Changer”

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.


4 responses to “The Methane Hydrates Revolution: Successful Natural Gas Extraction Test Is A “Game-Changer”

  1. Silberstein, Jek

    Japan has lots of Methane-hydrates around its Islands. I hope they are “taking notes.” I believe some hydrates blew-up, causing the Gulf disaster.

  2. If the DoE is smart they will get the EPA on board by pitching the idea that ‘global warming’ could quickly heat the hydrate beds to 55°+, the temperature at which hydrate naturally releases its methane, and that methane is a far stronger ‘greenhouse gas’ than CO2.
    The way to ‘save the world’ from this impending catastrophe’ is to extract the methane and convert it to relatively benign CO2 as fast as possible. After all, there is a LOT of it out there and much of it is in areas where the sea is already fairly warm:

  3. As fracking booms, there is no reason
    for government to stick its face in the

  4. This is not that big a deal. Hydrates naturally concentrate at the base of the permafrost in the arctic (about 1700 ft. down on the N. Slope), reaching up to 80-90% of pore volume. Deep ocean hydrates occur in the 2-5% of pore volume range, in the top 1500-1700 feet of sediment. This diffuse energy will be very difficult to recover, even if you could work safely in these soft, shallow sediments. So you can work in the very, very expensive Arctic, a long way from any market, or you can work in the merely very expensive deep ocean (need at least 1500 ft water depths). Gas hydrates will not be commercial any time soon, if ever.

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