Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
Font Size Change

ANRE to Launch the FY2014 Survey of Shallow Methane Hydrate-Japan’s comprehensive survey including reconnaissance geological surveys to ascertain the amount of shallow methane hydrate-

The Agency for Natural Resources and Energy (ANRE) will conduct surveys to ascertain shallow methane hydrate resources, following the FY2013 survey.

In FY2014, reconnaissance geological surveys of shallow methane hydrate will target survey areas in the sea around the Oki islands, offshore the Joetsu region, at Mogami trough, and offshore the Hidaka region. Heading to these areas, on April 15, 2014, a survey vessel left Sakai Port, Tottori Prefecture, and started the surveys.

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 surveys

In FY2014, ANRE will expand target areas beyond those of FY2013, and collect geological samples in areas thought to have a high potential for the presence of the resource.

Details of the survey

1) Reconnaissance geological survey of shallow methane hydrate

  • Target areas: Offshore, to the west of the Oki islands, in the west of the Oki Trough, offshore the Joetsu region, at the Mogami Trough (directly offshore from Akita and Yamagata Prefectures), and offshore the Hidaka region
  • Survey period: Scheduled for April 15 to June 15, 2014
  • 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: Kaiyo Maru No. 7 (Fuyo Ocean Development & Engineering Co., Ltd.)
    Survey Methodology:
  • The sound waves from equipment mounted on the bottom hull of the vessel to determine the configuration of the sea bottom (swath bathymetry) and shallow geological structures (sub-bottom profiling) directly below the vessel.
  • In some of the target areas, detailed geological surveys will also be conducted.

2) Drilling the seabed to collect geological samples

  • Survey period: Scheduled for early June to early July 2014
  • A drilling survey will be carried out to collect geological samples, including methane hydrate.
  • Target areas will be determined based on the results of reconnaissance geological survey of shallow methane hydrate.

3) Environmental survey

  • Survey period: Scheduled for fall 2014
  • Survey method: A Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) will collect the monitoring device already installed on the seabed to monitor the variations in marine physico-chemical conditions and biological environments and install another monitoring device for the same purpose.

3. Future schedule

ANRE will conduct a study concerning technologies for collecting these resources based on these survey results, including the results of the reconnaissance geological survey of shallow methane hydrate and geological samples collected at areas thought to have a high potential for the presence of the resource.


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

Reference 2: Vessel to be operated for the FY2014 survey

Kaiyo Maru No. 7 (operated for the reconnaissance geological survey)
Owner: Fuyo Ocean Development & Engineering Co., Ltd.
Entire length: 52.2 m
Width: 9.2 m
Weight: 499 tons
Sailing speed: 12.5 knots (1 knot = about 2 km/h)

Release Date

April 15, 2014

Division in Charge

Petroleum and Natural Gas Division, Natural Resources and Fuel Department, Agency for Natural Resources and Energy

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