US, Japan look for ‘fire in the ice’

Gas hydrate could become the industry’s next game-changer, offering gas-poor countries such as Japan the potential for significant domestic supplies. But can it be produced at the right price? Gas hydrate could become the industry’s next game-changer, offering gas-poor countries such as Japan the potential for significant domestic supplies. But can it be produced at the right price?
By Geoff Hiscock 11 April 2012 0 9033
The Japanese ship Chikyu was part of a drilling programme in the Nankai Trough, which contains methane gas hydrate. (PA)

In the language of Alaska’s indigenous Inupiat people, ‘Ignik Sikumi’ means ‘fire in the ice’, an evocative description of the frozen substance known as methane gas hydrate that one day may offer energy salvation to resource-poor nations such as Japan.

Appropriately, Ignik Sikumi is also the name chosen for a ConocoPhillips test well at Prudhoe Bay on Alaska’s North Slope, where Japanese and US researchers are exploring the potential of gas hydrate as an energy source.

Gas hydrate appears in Arctic sediments and below continental shelves as...

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