As Ambrose Evans-Pritchard reports: Japan cracks seabed ‘ice gas’ in dramatic leap for global energy. Just as the shale gas revolution was taking hold we appear to be on the verge of a much larger energy revolution. Methane hydrate, a methane molecule trapped in a molecular water cage, is thought to exist in appropriate temperature and pressure environments, such as deep sea deposits, that comprise more than half of the theoretical carbon fuel sources in the world. Figure 1 is a chart of the breakdown of the global occurrence of carbon energy sources with methane hydrate comprising more than half. This is a resource much larger than shale gas.
Figure 1. Distribution of organic carbon in the earth.
Source: Ambrose Evans-Pritchard.
Of the known occurrences, Japan has an exceptionally rich potentials as shown in Figure 2.
Figure 2. Worldwide distribution of methane hydrate .
Source: Science Direct.
As Evans-Pritchard notes, Tokyo hopes to bring the gas to market on a commercial scale within five years. This is a very short time frame for a new energy source to come onto the market. If it is realized, it will have immense impact on select national economies that have the resources to develop. The geopolitical implications are also enormous. This is the early stage of the revolution and commercial exploration has not really begun yet. The current energy superpowers such as the OPEC countries and Russia will find their influence waning. The loss of energy income may destabilize parts of the Mid East.
Japan’s economy in particular may be revitalized. Countries such as Canada that are net energy exporters and that have no appreciable alternative base of revenue such as manufacturing will go into decline.