An image from Chinese state television shows gas extracted from flammable ice burning in the South China Sea.
China is talking up its achievement of mining flammable ice for the first time from underneath the South China Sea.
The fuel-hungry country has been pursuing the energy source, located at the bottom of oceans and in polar regions, for nearly two decades. China’s minister of land and resources, Jiang Daming, said Thursday that the successful collection of the frozen fuel was “a major breakthrough that may lead to a global energy revolution,” according to state media.
Experts agree that flammable ice could be a game changer for the energy industry, similar to the U.S. shale boom. But they caution that big barriers — both technological and environmental — need to be cleared to build an industry around the frozen fuel, which is also known as gas hydrate.
China, the world’s largest energy consumer, isn’t the first country to make headway with flammable ice. Japan drilled into it in the Pacific and extracted gas in 2013 — and then did so again earlier this month. The U.S. government has its own long-running research program into the fuel.
The world’s resources of flammable ice — in which gas is stored in cages of water molecules — are vast. Gas hydrates are estimated to hold more carbon than all the world’s other fossil fuels combined, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
The South China Sea has been the subject of a territorial dispute between China and its neighbours for the last few years. In particular, China has been building air strips and reclaiming land on the Spratly Islands, which are strategically located there.
With a wealth of hydrocarbon reserves there, it is little wonder that China are so keen to lay claim.
It should now be abundantly clear that China has no intention whatsoever to move away from fossil fuels, despite what deluded Westerners may think.
China claims breakthrough in mining ‘flammable ice’
China has for the first time extracted gas from an ice-like substance under the South China Sea considered key to future global energy supply.
Chinese authorities have described the success as a major breakthrough.
Methane hydrates, also called “flammable ice”, hold vast reserves of natural gas.
Many countries including the US and Japan are working on how to tap those reserves, but mining and extracting are extremely difficult.
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