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Japan plans second offshore methane hydrate output test from late April

Tokyo — Japan plans to conduct a second testing round for offshore production of methane hydrate from around late April, aiming to run the tests non-stop for up to a month, an official at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said Monday.

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This will be the world's second offshore methane hydrate production test after Japan produced 120,000 cubic meters, or 20,000 cu m/day, of gas from methane hydrate in a first, six-day offshore production test in the Pacific Ocean in March 2013. That trial followed more than a decade of field research as well as testing of various technologies.

Like the last round, METI will conduct the trial using the decreasing pressure system at the Daini-Atsumi Knoll in the eastern Nankai Trough, 70-80 kilometers (43.4-49.6 miles) south of the Atsumi Peninsula in Aichi Prefecture, the official said.

The key objectives for the upcoming production test are to evaluate whether Japan can produce gas from methane hydrate using the decreasing pressure system stably for a given period, with a view to commercializing output in the future, the official said.



State-owned Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation, or Jogmec, is leading the methane hydrate output test for METI.

Starting from mid-April, operator Japan Methane Hydrate Operating Co. will extend its two production wells that have already been drilled by a further 50-60 meters to reach methane hydrate layers about 300 meters below the seabed at a water depth of around 1,000 meters, the official said.

JMH, which will charter the Chikyu drilling ship from early April, has to date drilled a total of five wells including the two production wells with monitoring wells.

JMH was formed in October 2014 as a joint venture of 11 Japanese companies, to take part in the planned next round of testing of pore-filling type methane hydrate.

JMH stakeholders are Japan Petroleum Exploration (33%), Japan Drilling Co. (18%), Inpex (13%), Idemitsu Kosan (5%), JX Nippon Oil & Gas Exploration Corporation (5%), Nippon Steel & Sumikin Engineering (5%), Chiyoda (5%), Toyo Engineering (5%), JGC (5%), Mitsui Oil Exploration Co. Ltd. (5%), and Mitsubishi Gas Chemical Company (1%).

--Takeo Kumagai, takeo.kumagai@spglobal.com
--Edited by Alisdair Bowles, alisdair.bowles@spglobal.com