Monday, June 09, 2008

Japan, U.S. To Cooperate in Methane Hydrate Research

AOMORI, Japan (AFP) — Japan and the United States on Saturday agreed to cooperate on research into methane hydrate, known as the "ice that burns" which is seen as a promising future energy source.

Energy ministers from the world's two largest economies signed the cooperation agreement at a meeting in northern Japan that comes amid mounting concern about record-high oil prices.

Methane hydrate, or methane gas trapped in frozen water, looks like ice but burns. Its deposits can be found in permafrost regions and seabeds.

Under the three-year cooperation agreement, Japan hopes to conduct an on-shore production test in Alaska.

The deal was signed between Japan's Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Akira Amari and US Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman.

The Japanese ministry and US department plan "extensive research with respect to methane hydrate exploration and resource assessment," a statement announcing the bilateral cooperation said.

"To establish technology for commercial production, we have to conduct test-production for several months," a Japanese ministry official said.

Japan already carried out test-production for several consecutive days in Canada, but it needs to carry out on-shore production for a longer test period, he said.

The meeting in Aomori, Japan, comes after oil prices posted their biggest ever one-day rise, soaring to 138.54 dollars in New York after hawkish remarks by a senior Israeli official about oil producer Iran.


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