The Global Geopolitical Landscape Of Energy

1992 Words Dec 7th, 2014 8 Pages
Fart jokes aside, methane isn’t all that exciting. But for energy hungry nations such as Japan, methane could the key element in developing national energy independence. Methane in the form of methane hydrate, a crystalline form of natural gas found at the bottom of oceans and in the Arctic permafrost, will within the next twenty years reshape the global geopolitical landscape of energy.

At room temperature, a solid chunk of methane hydrate can be lit with a single match and produce intense heat. Colloquially known as "fire ice", there is an estimated 20 quadrillion (20 x 1015) cubic meters of the substance lying several hundred meters below sea level but scattered along continental slopes and in the Arctic permafrost (Tarbuck). According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the enormous world-wide reservoirs of methane hydrate potentially contain more energy than all previously discovered conventional oil and gas reserves combined.

As mind-blowing as the numbers seem, until recently methane hydrates had never been seriously considered as a source of energy. According to oil and gas industry professionals, methane hydrates are a considered a nuisance as the substance can clog up natural gas pipelines, disrupting flow. Since the 1940 's, natural gas pipeline operators have spent considerable portions of their operating budgets devising ways to get rid of chunks of methane hydrate that form in areas where the pipeline has been exposed to cold temperatures.

Methane may be the…
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