Japan: ANRE in Methane Hydrate Drilling Survey

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The Agency for Natural Resources and Energy (ANRE) has launched a drilling survey to collect geological samples, including methane hydrate, as an effort for ascertaining the amount of shallow methane hydrate resources.

The survey vessel Hakurei left Shimonoseki Port, heading to sea areas offshore the Joetsu region and offshore the Akita and Yamagata regions, which are the target sea areas of the FY2014 drilling survey.

Methane hydrate is a solid material that consists of methane and water, crystallized under low-temperature and high-pressure conditions. A considerable amount of methane hydrate is estimated to be present throughout Japan’s waters, and is expected to become a natural gas resource in the future.

Methane hydrate present in Japan’s waters is categorized into both shallow-type and sand-layer pore-filling type. From FY2013, based on the Basic Plan on Ocean Policy, which was approved by the Cabinet in April 2013, ANRE has conducted exploration surveys to ascertain the extent of shallow methane hydrate available, after previously establishing its presence in the Sea of Japan.

Based on the results of the regional mapping survey in FY2013, ANRE will collect geological samples, including methane hydrate, by a survey vessel in the sea areas offshore the Joetsu region and offshore the Akita and Yamagata regions, which are areas thought to have a high potential for the presence of the resource.

This survey will be Japan’s first full-fledged operation to collect geological samples for searching for shallow methane hydrate. Based on the results of the survey, including collected geological samples, ANRE will conduct a new survey concerning technology for collecting resources.

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