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Methane Hydrate

Research of Methane Hydrate in Japan

Methane hydrate is an ice-like crystalline solid form which is a mixture of methane and water. It has been confirmed to exist abundantly in an environment keeping low-temperature and high-pressure below the seabed at depths of more than 500 meters. It is attracting significant attention in Japan for its potential of becoming a new domestic energy resource.

Two types of methane hydrate are confirmed to exist in areas surrounding Japan: "(pore-filling) sand-layer type" existing between the sand particles of sandy sediments under the seabed, and "shallow-type" existing in shape of the block called gas chimney structure at the surface of the seabed to under 100 meters. It is estimated that original resource of sand-layer type methane hydrate in the eastern area of the Nankai Trough exists approximately 1.1 trillion cubic meters as equivalent to methane(*1), and 1,742 gas chimney structures which are expected to exist shallow type methane hydrate are confirmed to exist at the sea of Japan side by a national survey in 3 years from 2013 (*2).

In March 2013, the offshore production test of sand-layer type methane hydrate was executed at the Daini Atsumi Knoll where is located off the coast between Atsumi Peninsula and Shima Peninsula and it achieved continuous production of methane gas from a methane hydrate-bearing layer for the first time in the world, in 6 consecutive days with an average of 20,000 cubic meters per day and cumulative of approximately 120,000 cubic meters (*3). In April to July 2017, the second offshore production test of methane hydrate in an effort to produce gas was executed and produced total 260,000 cubic meters of methane gas from 2 wells in 36 days (*4). Based on these results, the government will continue to proceed with technology research and development concerning methane hydrate while looking at the international situation, with consideration to launching its commercialization project led by private sector after 2023.

JAPEX’s contributions

JAPEX recognized the potential of methane hydrate to be a new energy resource in Japan earlier and makes contributions to the national R&D of developing methane hydrate resource including conducting the first offshore production test through practical use of our oil and gas E&P technologies and knowledge.

In October 2014, Japan Methane Hydrate Operating Co., Ltd. (JMH) was established by 11 private companies possessing capabilities of oil and gas E&P and plant engineering, including JAPEX as the largest shareholder, aiming to share the knowledge to develop Methane Hydrate in Japan.

JMH engaged in the operator work concerning the second offshore production test of sand-layer type methane hydrate on commission from Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC) in April 2015. From May 2016, preparation works such as drilling five wells for evaluation, observation, and production was carried out at the Daini Atsumi Knoll, located between Atsumi Peninsula and Shima Peninsula, and the production experiment was executed from April to July in 2017.

Also, JAPEX will pursue the possibility for joining research and development of the shallow-type methane hydrate exploration, development, and production.

(*1) Reprinted from the flyer of MH21 Research Consortium published in 2014.
(*2) Referred to the news release by Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry on September 16, 2016.
(*3) Referred to the document No.5 of the 26th Investigative commission of methane Hydrate development by Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry,.
(*4) Referred to the document No.5 of the 33th Investigative commission of methane Hydrate development by Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.
(*5) Referred to the Offshore Energy and Mineral Resource Development Plan formulated by the Ministry of Economy (METI), Trade and Industry on December 24, 2013.

The appearance of the second offshore production test of methan hydrate.
The appearance of the production experiment of gus as the second offshore production test of methane hydrate
(Copyright:MH21 Research Consortium)

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