03 Jan 2008 04:01:47
Japan set to begin 'flammable ice' drilling
Japan plans to drill for billions of tons of methane hydrate that lies frozen beneath the Pacific Ocean floor, as it aims to establish its energy independence.
Scientists from the Asian nation believe there are sufficient quantities of the energy source, also known as 'inflammable ice', to meet the country's gas demands for the next 14 years, Bloomberg reported.
Japan has begun test drilling for the icy crystals, alongside the US and Canada, despite concerns over the environmental consequences of any mass extraction.
"Methane hydrate was a key cause of the global warming that led to one of the largest extinctions in the earth's history," Ryo Matsumoto, a University of Tokyo scientist, told the website.
"By making the best use of our wisdom, knowledge and technology, we should be able to utilize this wisely as a new energy," he added.
With the Japanese test drilling scheduled for early 2009, Bloomberg reported concern from locals that the project might affect fish stocks, while other have expressed fears that melting undersea ice could release the methane into the ocean.