The Future of Ice Gas

The researchers showed that these abiotic methane hydrates were remarkably stable, spanning back approximately two million years, and that they exist in very deep water, which makes the methane less vulnerable to potential release, according to the study. The release of methane from gas hydrates into the atmosphere is a potential hazard for companies looking to commercialize the ice gas resource.

Elsewhere in the Arctic, JOGMEC and the National Energy Technology Laboratory – an affiliate of the U.S. DOE – recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding concerning Japan-US collaboration on methane hydrate development in Alaska. As part of the MoU JOGMEC and NETL will conduct joint research into ice gas in Alaska until around 2019, which could lead to the development of commercialization technology.

It's unclear exactly when methane hydrates will enter a state of commercialization: Japan's Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Toshimitsu Motegi believes it could be as early as 2023, although the U.S. Geological Survey noted that the National Petroleum Council thinks that we will not see significant ice gas production until after 2025. One thing is clear though – if methane hydrates can be commercialized, it'll be great news for ice gas-rich nations all over the world.


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