Could methane be pulled up from the deep oceans and used as fuel? If so, would that better or worse than using oil?
That’s an idea that the Japanese are currently looking into. The Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation plans on spending more than $1 billion to assess the commercial viability of tapping Japan’s undersea methane deposits to use as an energy source. The study will be the first of its kind, and has yet to begin (obviously there may be a few setbacks now).
Is it better or worse than oil? Depends on who you ask, and what’s important to you. It’s certainly not a risk-free enterprise: an accidental release of the methane deposits could be very difficult to stop, and very deadly to nearby life, and it’s a definite possibility that drilling could result in underwater landslides, destroying the surrounding ecosystem. However, for countries like Japan, who depend almost entirely on foreign oil, energy independence would be a great boon to the economy.
Most of the big energy companies are at least investigating production from methane hydrates, both on seafloors and in frozen lands with permafrost. At present it is not economic on any significant scale. Some oil and gas companies have done various tests.
“better or worse” than oil is a subjective evaluation. It would be more expensive than most conventional oil production, and then what you’d have is gas, not oil. There are also potential dangers of emission, but that’s possible with most natural gas deposits.
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