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The Song of ‘Fire Ice’: China Claims Revolution in Energy Extraction

The Song of ‘Fire Ice’: China Claims Revolution in Energy Extraction thumbnail

As China celebrates its success in extracting natural gas from ‘fire ice’, it’s still unclear whether Beijing has made a significant technological achievement and revolutionized the energy industry.

Earlier China proudly announced that the country for the first time managed to successfully extract natural gas from methane hydrate deposits located in South China Sea near the delta of the Zhujiang river, and that the amount of extracted natural gas has exceeded all expectations.But while Beijing hailed this accomplishment as a historic breakthrough that ushers a new era in the energy industry, many prominent analysts around the globe regarded the celebration as premature.

Igor Yushkov, lead analyst at the National Energy Security Fund, told Sputnik that China’s achievement can be compared to the new technologies developed in the US which made the shale gas extraction economically viable.

“And here’s the difference. China triumphantly reports the beginning of the ‘fire ice’ extraction but at the same time keeps quiet about how much it actually costs. This, of course, raises further questions because the cost of the extracted raw materials is what matters the most. It is the price, and nothing else, that will determine the commercial success of this Chinese technology and of the ‘fire ice’ extraction process overall,” Yushkov said, adding that Japan launched natural gas extraction from methane hydrate deposits back in 2013 but chose to suspend the operation because the new technology proved too expensive.

According to the analyst, China is well aware of this, and there are basically two reasons why Beijing chose to portray the successful implementation of the new process.

“It appears that the closer we get to the beginning of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China where partial changes in the country’s leadership will take place, the more good news appears in Chinese media. From a propaganda standpoint, everything was done pretty smoothly. Chinese authorities seek to persuade their citizens that everything is fabulous in the country, which means that the people at the helm are doing their job right,” he said.

The other reason, according to Yushkov, is pure economy, as the reports about China’s “historic breakthrough” natural gas extraction from methane hydrates came at “just the right time.”

“Behind these reports is a veiled attempt to influence the prices of foreign natural gas suppliers, including Russia’s Gazprom which is currently negotiating new shipments with China. The price issue is very important to China as the amount of natural gas that the country imports increases each year. So the bombastic rhetoric and the lack of the most important info in the reports about China’s success in methane hydrate natural gas extraction leads one to believe that this event, which is being presented to the global community as a revolution in the energy industry, is largely a media project of the state-controlled Chinese news agencies,” Yushkov surmised.

Methane hydrates are solid ice-like crystals formed from a mixture of methane and water at specific pressure and conditions, usually under hundreds of meters of water, or closer to the surface in Arctic permafrost. According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), worldwide reserves of global hydrate resources are estimated to range from 280 trillion cubic meters (10,000 trillion cubic feet) up to 2,800 trillion cubic meters (100,000 trillion cubic feet), more energy content than all the world’s coal, oil and natural gas combined. At the current consumption rates globally, methane hydrate reserves could meet global gas demands for anything from 80 to 800 years.


7 Comments on "The Song of ‘Fire Ice’: China Claims Revolution in Energy Extraction"

  1. onlooker on Sun, 2nd Jul 2017 12:20 pm 

    So pathetic we are reduced to trying to extract energy from these marginal energy plays to try and keep an Industrial Civilization going that we need to survive but which itself is dooming us. Yes Clog that goes for renewable energy as well

  2. Apneaman on Sun, 2nd Jul 2017 12:42 pm 

    “As China celebrates its success in extracting natural gas from ‘fire ice’, it’s still unclear whether Beijing has made a significant technological achievement and revolutionized the energy industry.”

    If it’s “unclear” then what exactly are they celebrating for?

    Kinda reminds me of this famous American photo.

  3. shortonoil on Sun, 2nd Jul 2017 12:52 pm 

    Fission, fusion, zero point energy, the Fischer Tropsch process, methane clathrate – then how come we are still stuck with oil? Ever get the feeling that someone is pulling your leg?

  4. bobinget on Sun, 2nd Jul 2017 1:46 pm 

    Who will bet: which comes first?
    A) Commercial harvesting of Methane Hydrates.
    B) Safe nuclear power.
    C) Zombie power
    D) Con fusion

  5. bobinget on Sun, 2nd Jul 2017 1:49 pm 

    Scientists think about science.
    Business people think about profits.

  6. bobinget on Sun, 2nd Jul 2017 1:58 pm 

    Business people think all day about making a profit.
    Scientists think about science.

    On rare occasion the two have a cute meet.

    Like ‘boy and ‘girl’ hooking up for a few days or weeks, things go on as expected. Each side have
    Long term relationships, not so much.

  7. Apneaman on Sun, 2nd Jul 2017 3:22 pm 

    Here’s the methane that is going to have a much much bigger impact on the humans.

    ‘Big bang’ and ‘pillar of fire’ as latest of two new craters forms this week in the Arctic – 02 July 2017

    “‘There was a hill not far from the camp, and it exploded.

    ‘There were fire, smoke and huge chunks of soil ‘flying out’ of the epicentre.

    ‘The hill has vanished.'”

    “The Scientific Centre for Arctic Research said its sensors picked up the latest explosion.

    ‘On 28 June at 11.00.13 am local time, the seismic network on Yamal recorded a seismic event, probably associated with the release of gas,’ said a statement from the institute.”

    “The craters are believed to form when underground methane gas – trapped by permafrost for thousands of years – is released due to the warming climate in this Arctic region and erupts inside pingo mounds. ”

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