What is Methane Hydrate?
You may remember hearing that one of BP’s many problems when drilling in the Gulf of Mexico was that they encountered methane hydrate – a crystaline structure that forms on the ocean floor from methane and water under very high pressure. Now scientists and engineers are looking at ways to harvest this additional source of energy for our planet.
It could cost as much as $30 to $60 per MMCF to harvest natural gas from Methane Hydrate. However, Japan is especially interested because natural gas now sells there for around $16 per MMCF vs. $4 per MMCF in the US.
Researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey have estimated there could be 700,000 TCF of natural gas trapped in methane hydrate deposits around the world – more energy than from all previously discovered oil and gas combined. Commercial harvesting of this unstable methane hydrate is not expected to begin for at least a decade.
In 2012 ConocoPhillips worked with the US DOE to test a plan to extract natural gas from methane hydrate under Alaska’s North Slope. China plans to host an international conference on methane hydrate in 2014, and India is also very interested in this new energy source.
Some environmentalists feel that adding more methane and its combustion products to the earth’s atmosphere will only exacerbate the global warming crisis they foresee.
Some other references on this subject:
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