China extracts record amount of natural gas from ‘fire ice’ in South China Sea 

Posted: April 3, 2020 by oldbrew in Energy, research
Tags: , ,

Burning hydrate [image credit: US Office of Naval Research]


H/T The GWPF

The main obstacle to the massive but untapped energy resource of gas hydrate is cost of extraction, once technical problems are mastered.

We might be sitting on enough gas to power the world for hundreds, if not thousands, of years, says OilPrice.com.

In a world awash in oil and gas, you’d think it couldn’t get any worse. Well, it can: China just announced that it had extracted a record amount of what has been poetically called fire ice. It is, however, a form of natural gas trapped in frozen water.

At 861,400 cubic meters, this record might not be a whole lot of gas, but it may well be the start of something new, and gas producers may not like this ‘something’.

Gas hydrates don’t garner a lot of media attention as a rule, simply because they have yet to become an addition to the world’s energy mix. But when they do—if they do—they may change the international oil and gas market even more than the coronavirus outbreak has changed it now by decimating demand for hydrocarbons.

First, what are gas hydrates?

Gas hydrates are molecules of natural gas, most commonly methane, trapped in a “cage” made from water molecules. They exist in cold climates, such as beneath the Arctic permafrost and Antarctic ice, but also in sedimentary deposits–the same kind of deposits where oil and gas collect along the margins of continents and also under the seabed of specific basins such as the South China Sea.

Because they only exist in cold places, research on gas hydrates has been challenging. As geologist Hobart M. King explains in an article on hydrates for Geology.com, hydrates are only stable in the environment where they formed.

To study them, researchers need to remove the samples from their environment. The change in temperature in pressure, however, melts the water cage, and the methane escapes.

Why bother with hydrates at all, then? Because they may be more abundant than all other hydrocarbons taken together: oil, gas, and coal.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the world’s methane gas hydrates could be as vast as 250,000 to 700,000 trillion cu ft. According to the UN Environmental Programme, the world’s reserves of gas hydrates could be as large as 3,000 to 30,000 trillion cubic meters. But these are just enormous figures that are difficult to digest.

Here’s an estimate that might be more palatable: the world’s gas hydrate reserves could be between 100,000 and 1.1 million exajoules. For context, the world’s total annual energy consumption as of 2014 when the UNEP paper was written was about 500 exajoules.

This means we might be sitting on enough gas to power the world for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.

It’s packed tightly, too. According to the Department of Energy, a single cu m of hydrate can release as much as 164 cubic meters of natural gas. Talk about energy density.

Full article here.

Comments
  1. JB says:

    Now THERE’S the EV energy source! Use the residual water for heating the vehicle.
    Har.

  2. ivan says:

    When they get that on line all the bird and bat mincers can be removed as totally unnecessary and we, the people. should get energy at a reasonable price not the super inflated one due to all the green subsidies and taxes.

  3. gbaikie says:

    “But when they do—if they do—they may change the international oil and gas market even more than the coronavirus outbreak has changed it now by decimating demand for hydrocarbons.”

    Oil prices were low and then Saudi and Russia flooded oil supply, only as some butterfly effect could one think the coronavirus outbreak could be factor. And since prices so low, unlikely coronavirus outbreak will in future have much effect on price of crude oil. in terms natural gas, maybe coronavirus outbreak has decimating demand, lowered price by 10%. and maybe long term shutdown might have more effect.

    Anyhow if methane Hydrates is successful mined, it will have a large effect, but it’s unlikely to lower price of natural gas, but should cause more widespread use of natural gas. And China could use it and have better air quality and stop wasting so much money on using coal.

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