Methane again

All over the world (my path: Timmy -> Torygraph -> google -> Nude scientist -> JOGMEC press release -> JOGMEC) there is excitement about "Japan cracks seabed 'ice gas' in dramatic leap for global energy". Which is indeed interesting, but not quite as dramatic as suggested. Because as the pic of the flare makes clear, this is a very small flow. If you read the press release, is clear this is still experimental:

Methane hydrate (*1) receives attention as one of the unconventional gas resources in the future. During the period from FY2001 to FY2008, which is Phase 1 of the “Japan's Methane Hydrate R&D Program” (*2) (Program), seismic surveys and exploitation drillings were conducted at the eastern Nankai trough, off the coast from Shizuoka-pref. to Wakayama-pref., as the model area, where a considerable amount of methane hydrate deposits is confirmed (*3).In Phase 2 of the Program starting from FY2009, aiming to develop a technology to extract natural gas through dissociation of methane hydrate, this is the first offshore test ever conducted (*4).The first offshore production test is planned over a span of two years.

In February and March last year, the preparatory works including drilling a production well and two monitoring wells were conducted. From
June to July, the pressured core samples were acquired from methane hydrate layers. In this operation, a flow test through dissociation of methane hydrate is conducted after the preparatory works including drilling and installing equipments for the flow test.

Preparatory drilling started: February 15, 2012
Came back to Shimizu Port: March 26, 2012
Operation to acquire pressured core samples: from June 29 to July 7, 2012
Started the operation at the test site: January 28, 2013
Started the flow test and confirmed gas production: March 12, 2013

Ending the flow test, retrieving test equipments: until end of March
Retrieving remained equipments from the site: August, 2013

Although the first offshore production test is not a commercial production and is an experimental operation as an activity in research, it will be a big progress in research and development of methane hydrate as a resource since precious data including dissociation behavior of methane hydrate under the sea floor, impact to the surrounding environment, and so on, would be obtained once this test ends in success. Based on accomplishment of the production test, it is also planned to proceed with the second offshore production test scheduled in Phase 2 and establishing the technological platform toward future commercial production in Phase 3 which is scheduled from FY2016 until FY2018.

So, an important step but not yet commercial or even close (NS says "could start as early as 2018").

Sweetly, JOGMEC cares about your safety:

Since this is a flow test of flammables, please do not approach to the site because of the safety reason.


* Arctic Methane Emergency Group?

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Oi, no title of this post?

BTW, gotta love the Japanese English. "The safety reason". Which specific "the" safety reason would that be?

I'm guessing the catching on fire one. :)

By Steve Bloom (not verified) on 13 Mar 2013 #permalink

Dear Mr Connolley,

thanks for your efforts in educating people about climate change. Is there any way to send you a PM for more detailed questions?

[If PM is "personal message": its generally better to leave questions in the comments. Then you get the benefit of everyone's wisdom -W]

Hm ok, thank you, then I will leave my question here in the comment section.

I've just stumbled across one article by one self proclaimed "climate-scientist", and I'd be interested to see if his (extremly dire) conclusions have any substance. The article is (
Anyone any comments on this? (I ask this because I think there must be some reason why the author of this article suspects that the situation is so dire, or is this just pure "alarmism"?)

Note: I really don't want to discredit anyone here, just really interested in what serious scientists have to say to this.

[I don't know him. He seems to be an ecologist, so its hard for me to judge him. I don't seem him claiming to be a climate scientist. But inevitably, I try. So I find his pubs, which look perfectly respectable but minor: 1-2 pubs per year from 1986 to now (with a gap around 2001, perhaps as he was retiring). "Emeritus" is often something of a watchword, but we may be OK here.

Reading the post you refer to: it seems far too alarmist to me. I think he's over-reacting to the "positive feedback" thing (I'm disappointed: he's an ecologist, and might have interesting things to say from his own knowledge about these effects *within ecology*, but instead he tries to talk about things outside his knowledge. "scientists agree that warming of 4 to 6 C causes a dead planet" is, I think, nonsense -W]

Eli believes the technical term for what is seen in the picture is will-o-the-wisp

By Eli Rabett (not verified) on 13 Mar 2013 #permalink

"Since this is a flow test of flammables, please do not approach to the site because of the safety reason."

Sea Shepard, drawn like a moth to the flame ... :)

Slightly older news on continuing testing of in situ carbon dioxide replacement of methane in calthrates:

Fairly good links below (the 1st one in the More Info sidebar relates the project above):

And more generally, but personally not having more that skimmed a bit:…

By WhiteBeard (not verified) on 13 Mar 2013 #permalink

The conservatism of "radical" eco-scares has rarely been better displayed.

If a story isn't reported by the mainstrem media it cannot be ture, or if ture, worth knowing about.

Doubtless Lysenkoism is unquestionable because the Soviet media never questioned it and 28 gate never happened because the BBC never reported it.

An Al "got the science mostly right" Gore is correct to say "the debate is over" about CAGW & 20 foot sea level rises.

Ever think that sometimes what those in power don't want to tell you about might be more important?

By Neil Craig (not verified) on 26 Mar 2013 #permalink