The news in early March that a Japanese company had finally successfully extracted natural gas from methane hydrate deposits under the seabed offshore Japan was hailed as a breakthrough for the energy industry around the world. There are large deposits of methane hydrate, or "ice gas", in several locations around the planet which means, if successfully exploited, they could bring to many regions around the world the low gas prices currently seen in North America as a result of the shale gas boom.
Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation reported March 12 that it successfully extracted natural gas from methane hydrate deposits from around 1,000 feet under the seabed offshore Japan.
Methane hydrate is a compound in which a large amount of methane is trapped within a crystal structure made up of water, so forming a solid that is similar to ice in its composition (although it looks like slush). For methane hydrate deposits to form the right conditions in terms of pressures and temperatures are required.