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China Claims Methane Hydrates Breakthrough May Lead To Global Energy Revolution

May 22, 2017

By Paul Homewood



China is talking up its achievement of mining flammable ice for the first time from underneath the South China Sea.

The fuel-hungry country has been pursuing the energy source, located at the bottom of oceans and in polar regions, for nearly two decades. China’s minister of land and resources, Jiang Daming, said Thursday that the successful collection of the frozen fuel was "a major breakthrough that may lead to a global energy revolution," according to state media.

Experts agree that flammable ice could be a game changer for the energy industry, similar to the U.S. shale boom. But they caution that big barriers — both technological and environmental — need to be cleared to build an industry around the frozen fuel, which is also known as gas hydrate.


China, the world’s largest energy consumer, isn’t the first country to make headway with flammable ice. Japan drilled into it in the Pacific and extracted gas in 2013 — and then did so again earlier this month. The U.S. government has its own long-running research program into the fuel.

The world’s resources of flammable ice — in which gas is stored in cages of water molecules — are vast. Gas hydrates are estimated to hold more carbon than all the world’s other fossil fuels combined, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.


The South China Sea has been the subject of a territorial dispute between China and its neighbours for the last few years. In particular, China has been building air strips and reclaiming land on the Spratly Islands, which are strategically located there.

With a wealth of hydrocarbon reserves there, it is little wonder that China are so keen to lay claim.

It should now be abundantly clear that China has no intention whatsoever to move away from fossil fuels, despite what deluded Westerners may think.

  1. May 22, 2017 1:28 pm

    Vast deposits is not hyperbolic. BP’s 2010 Macondo well blow-out in the Gulf of Mexico was caused by methane hydrates

    Commercial development is a long ways off yet

  2. Dung permalink
    May 22, 2017 2:31 pm

    This is old news and NOT a breakthrough, the Japanese and Canadians jointly recovered Methane Hydrates from the sea bed off the North west coast of Canada some years ago.
    Almost every country with a coastline has deposits and Scotland and Ireland certainly have deposits

  3. John F. Hultquist permalink
    May 22, 2017 3:21 pm

    CH4 + 2 O2 → CO2 + 2 H2O

    See the evil CO2 on the right side of the arrow. Oops!
    Do you see wind and solar anywhere?
    This industry, someday, may be big and make lots of money.
    The Age of Carbon will go on and on.
    Thus, there will be much opposition from the green activists.

    There will be “no joy in Mudville.”

    • May 22, 2017 3:38 pm

      Since we ‘re a carbon-based species on a carbon-based planet, John, the Age of Carbon is likely to go on as long as we do, i reckon.

      Pity the green blob don’t understand that. I wonder what they think they are made of. No prizes for the best answer but a good giggle, maybe!

  4. Athelstan permalink
    May 22, 2017 3:25 pm

    This is way off base, it’s like dipping your toe in the north sea and then pretending to know and proceeding to telling all and sundry the water temperature in, Sydney Harbour.

    Methane clathrates may be ‘mined’ one day but until we understand much better the forces that could be unleashed ie slope subsidence, unexpected releases of vast amounts of gas into abysal oceans, all of it is on the very edge of exploratory ‘mining’. Probably – it’s 50-100 years off into the future, there are far more and better opportunities to exploit the world’s natural resources before ‘we take the plunge’ on undersea Methane Clathrates.

    it ain’t fake it’s just science fiction.

  5. May 22, 2017 10:33 pm

    Moving from coal to gas for electricity is more efficient and less CO2
    So we can say that China is doing a better job of reducing CO2 than solar/wind mafia guys.
    Cos Inserting solar or wind into an electricity network has never properly been shown to reduce CO2
    You start off by burning a lot of EXTRA CO2 to make the new new infrastructure : panels and turbines and extra transmission systems. Essentially almost their entire CO2 footprint is front loaded onto before they have started producing you waste CO2 today in anticipation of getting electricity without CO2 in the future until decommissioning costs.
    And to cap it all cos you have to keep switch on and off conventional power stations, you end up running them less efficiently and increasing their per MW, CO2

  6. John Fuller permalink
    May 23, 2017 10:21 am

    One should take any article that talks about a “global energy revolution” with a pinch of salt. Hydrates, as some of your other correspondents have mentioned, are not difficult to find but extremely difficult to harness. There’s along way to go yet.

  7. May 23, 2017 2:27 pm

    If politicians in developed countries persist in their deluded attempt to decarbonize, their political parties will disintegrate. In my opinion,this is a great threat to all modern democracies because it is uncertain what might creep out from under the rocks to replace our current political establishments.

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