JOGMEC Invites Proposals for Gas Hydrates Production Test Offshore Japan

Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC) on Nov. 19 invited proposals from potential candidates for the first offshore production test of methane gas hydrates in the Eastern Nankai Trough offshore central Japan in the Pacific Ocean.

The production test, scheduled to take place in fourth quarter of 2012, will determine the effectiveness of producing methane gas by dissociating the methane hydrate in the shallow formation under the seabed using the depressurization method.

The test will be performed at one of two areas; a final decision on the test location will be made at the end or March 2011. One drilling site, Alpha, is located between 24 miles and 31 miles offshore Japan in water depths ranging from 2,214 feet to 2,880 feet; the second area, Beta, is located 43 miles to 50 miles offshore in water depths ranging from 2,811 feet to 4,609 feet.

The contract, if commissioned by Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, is expected to begin around March 31, 2011, and have a budget of JPY 50,000,000 (US $600,366.04). JOGMEC will evaluate proposals on the basis of the whole proposed work and cost plan for a four-year study until the end of fiscal year 2013.

The study's objectives include developing and manufacturing the monitoring system; installing the system into boreholes; measuring the change in temperature; and analyzing data. Monitoring wells will be drilled at the end of fiscal year 2011 (January to March 2012), followed by the installation of the monitoring system, which will be manufactured and tested by year-end 2011. Drilling and installation operations will then be done with a drilling vessel, which will be hired by JOGMEC.

Successful production could help reduce Japan's dependence on foreign oil and gas imports. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Japan is the world's largest importer of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and coal and the second largest net importer of oil, and relies on LNG imports for virtually all of its gas needs.