TOKYO, Dec 25 (KUNA) -- Japan's Agency for Natural Resources and Energy (ANRE) announced Thursday it has successfully extracted samples of methane hydrate from the seabed of the Sea of Japan. Researchers drilled the seafloor up to a depth of about 100 meters since June, and collected soil samples containing methane hydrate in offshore areas off the northern prefectures of Yamagata and Akita as well as Niigata Prefecture in central Japan, ANRE said, adding that the samples were as thick as one meter.
In March last year, Japan successfully extracted natural gas from seabed methane hydrate off its Pacific coast in the world's first such tests, but this was the first time to collect soil samples containing the substance from the Sea of Japan.
The agency said it will continue the survey on methane hydrate in the Sea of Japan through fiscal 2015 to assess the amount of deposits there. The government aims to start commercial production from fiscal 2018.
Methane hydrate is a frozen form of methane gas found deep beneath the seabed. Also known as flammable ice, the substance is seen as a promising next-generation resource for Japan, the world's third-biggest energy user after the US and China.
According to estimates, methane hydrate deposits in waters around Japan could meet Japan's gas requirements for 100 years. (end)