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Japan and India, Asia’s biggest energy consumers after China, are closer to unlocking natural gas deposits trapped in ice below the seabed that may prove bigger than the world’s known fossil-fuel reserves.
Japan Oil, Gas & Metals National Corp. said yesterday it produced gas in the world’s first offshore test to extract the fuel from the frozen depths. A team including Oil & Natural Gas Corp. (ONGC), India’s biggest energy explorer, will drill off the east coast this year and try to produce the fuel, according to two officials at the regulator Directorate General of Hydrocarbons. They asked to not be named before the official announcement.
The nations are trying to catch up with North America, where discoveries of gas in shale rock and tar sands herald an energy revolution carrying the U.S. and Canada toward energy independence. While shale is found in only certain parts of the globe, carbon frozen with water -- called methane hydrates or burnable ice -- is found under most sea beds. The catch: There’s no technology yet to commercially extract that gas.
Initial estimates suggest carbon deposits in hydrates are double the size of all known oil, gas and coal reserves, the U.S. Geological Survey said in a January 2013 report. The world’s proven reserves of natural gas alone were 208.4 trillion cubic meters at the end of 2011, according to BP Plc. (BP/)