Japan’s recent success in extracting methane hydrate is now expected to make Japan a gas export powerhouse, as there is estimated to be enough of the stuff around Japan to last a century or more.
Methane hydrate (or methane clathrate) is a solid deposit of methane gas found in large quantities on the ocean floor, and with extraction and processing yields natural gas, commonly used as fuel.
Japan recently announced the first ever success in extracting methane hydrates from the ocean floor, and expects commercial production in its waters to begin “within 5 years.”
These reserves are estimated by the government to be big enough to supply Japan’s gas needs “for 100 years” (assuming of course that they do not export it all well before then, and that gas will be of any use to anyone in a century).
Experts also mention another unusual property of the deposits – some are thought to be renewable:
“The deposits in the Sea of Japan are called surface deposits, and are deposits on the seabed which are actually exposed.
On the Pacific side, once we extract the deposits they will be exhausted, but in the case of surface deposits they form pillars which are constantly being deposited and then melting away.
So, as long the Earth remains active, they will continue to be created – so the amount produced in these deposits will exceed the 100 year deposits.”
Vast reserves and renewable stocks could are thought likely to not only make Japan self-sufficient in its energy needs, but also make it into a huge net exporter of gas, ending its dependence on energy imports and potentially allowing it to pay down its enormous national debt.
Best of all – from Japan’s perspective at least – most of the major deposits so far identified lie on Japan’s Pacific coast, well away from even the most extravagant Chinese and Korean claims, and well within Japan’s EEZ:
However, there are also suspected to be large deposits lying undiscovered in such inconvenient areas as the Senkaku islands, the Northern Territories, and Takeshima, so there is still ample scope for territorial squabbles.
The huge implications of methane hydrates to Japan have been exciting massive interest recently – but also some misgivings:
“Infinite reserves you say!?”
“Expect us to get invaded soon.”
“Just wait for the research fraud to be uncovered.”
“The renewable reserves do sound too good to be true. Still, resources are resources!”
“China and Russia are going to be all over us if we do start exporting this stuff.”
“Can you actually use this stuff in a car?”
“Between Russia’s natural gas and the USA’s shale gas I don’t see this ending well for Japan.”
“Some of this stuff sounds like the kind of propaganda you’d hear in North Korea. There is bound to be a limit to this stuff.”
“It’s gas so it is not a replacement for oil like these idiots seem to think.”
“I guess we can at least get rid of those nuclear plants now though.”
“Japan having the best tech in the world and being a next generation energy superpower – isn’t this against the rules?”
“This all feels like a repeat of the bubble dreams…”
“We don’t need to work any more! We can just buy stuff from overseas and live like kings…”
“If vast amounts of new deposits are exploitable, the price is bound to collapse. Imagine what this is going to do to the middle east… from nouveau rich to NEET.”
“Other nations have barely prospected for this stuff. What if they all have it?”