Japan undertakes ambitious hydrate drilling program

Japan will drill 16 shallow exploratory wells in deep waters off its coast, from Mie to Shizuoka prefectures, to determine the expanse and density of methane hydrate deposits. Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) announced in early January that this is part of a 16-year study, 2001-16, to determine whether methane hydrate is a viable commercial substitute for natural gas. A consortium of Japan Petroleum Exploration Co. Ltd. (Japex), Japan National Oil Corp. (JNOC), and Teikoku Oil Co. will drill into the upper 300-400 m of sediment, in water depths from 700 m to 2,000 m. The consortium faces the challenges of deep water, strong currents, sediment instability, and hyd...

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