Gas From Ice

Methane gas hydrates are flammable ice crystals packed with hydrocarbons. Until recently, it was too expensive to recover the fuel trapped in the ice, but new technology and demand are opening up possibilities.
December 9, 2008, 1pm PST | Tim Halbur
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"In a recently released report, the USGS for the first time announced details of large hydrate reserves in the Alaskan permafrost that should be recoverable using existing technology. The vast field could hold as much as 85 trillion cubic feet of gas – an amount far less than the dream scenarios put forward in the past, but still massive. Even more important, such movement makes the possibility of getting at the mother lode of hydrate resources – those located offshore – increasingly realistic.

'I never thought this would happen so quickly,' says Carolyn Ruppel, a USGS research geophysicist who was heavily involved in prior hydrate research expeditions, referring to the planned production test. While the number of proposed drilling programs is small and significant obstacles remain, 'there has been a real change these past four years,' Dr. Ruppel says. 'It's partially from market pressures.'"

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Published on Wednesday, December 3, 2008 in The Christian Science Monitor
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