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Agency for Natural Resources and EnergyANRE to Launch a Drilling Survey for Shallow Methane HydrateJapan’s first full-fledged operation to collect geological samples

The Agency for Natural Resources and Energy (ANRE) will launch a drilling survey to collect geological samples, including methane hydrate, as an effort for ascertaining the amount of shallow methane hydrate resources.

For this purpose, on June 21, 2014, a survey vessel left Shimonoseki Port, heading to sea areas offshore the Joetsu region and offshore the Akita and Yamagata regions, which are the target sea areas of the FY2014 drilling survey.

1. Background

Methane hydrate is a solid material that consists of methane and water, crystallized under low-temperature and high-pressure conditions. A considerable amount of methane hydrate is estimated to be present throughout Japan's waters, and is expected to become a natural gas resource in the future.

Methane hydrate present in Japan's waters is categorized into both shallow-type and sand-layer pore-filling type. From FY2013, based on the Basic Plan on Ocean Policy, which was approved by the Cabinet in April 2013, ANRE has conducted exploration surveys to ascertain the extent of shallow methane hydrate available, after previously establishing its presence in the Sea of Japan.

2. Outline of the survey

Based on the results of the regional mapping survey in FY2013, ANRE will collect geological samples, including methane hydrate, by a survey vessel in the sea areas offshore the Joetsu region and offshore the Akita and Yamagata regions, which are areas thought to have a high potential for the presence of the resource.

This survey will be Japan’s first full-fledged operation to collect geological samples for searching for shallow methane hydrate.

Details of the survey

Survey period:
Scheduled for June 21 to July 10, 2014
Target areas:
Offshore the Joetsu region, offshore the Akita and Yamagata regions
Contractors:
Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) (implementing body)
Organization for the Strategic Coordination of Research and Intellectual Properties, Meiji University (operator of the survey)
Vessel:
Hakurei (Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation)
Purpose:
To collect geological samples, including methane hydrate

3. Future schedule

Based on the results of the survey, including collected geological samples, ANRE will conduct a new survey concerning technology for collecting resources.

Reference 1: Expected target areas of the FY2014 drilling survey for shallow methane hydrate resources

Reference 2: Outline of marine resource research vessel “Hakurei”

Owner: Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation
Entire length: 118.3 m
Width: 19.0 m
Weight: 6,283 tons
Sailing speed: 15.5 knots (1 knot = about 2 km/h)

Release Date

June 23, 2014

Division in Charge

Petroleum and Natural Gas Division, Natural Resources and Fuel Department, ANRE

Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
1-3-1 Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8901, Japan Tel: +81-(0)3-3501-1511
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