In April, the U.S. Department of Energy and an international consortium of major oil and gas companies completed an unprecedented two-month proof-of-concept test in the North Slope of Alaska. The experiment was supposed to show that a steady flow of methane molecules could be extracted from a substance known as methane or gas hydrates submerged under the sea floor.
It worked and the world moved one step closer to tapping gas hydrates, the most abundant fossil fuel resource on Earth.
Gas hydrates consist of a crystalline substance in which methane molecules – the primary component of natural gas – are trapped in a lattice of water molecules.
“The energy content of methane in hydrate form is immense, possibly exceeding the combined energy content of all other known fossil fuels,” according to the Energy Department.