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Tapping methane hydrates for unconventional natural gas

January 1, 2007

Methane hydrate is an icelike form of concentrated methane and water found in the sediments of permafrost regions and marine continental margins at depths far shallower than conventional oil and gas. Despite their relative accessibility and widespread occurrence, methane hydrates have never been tapped to meet increasing global energy demands. With rising natural gas prices, production from these unconventional gas deposits is becoming economically viable, particularly in permafrost areas already being exploited for conventional oil and gas. This article provides an overview of gas hydrate occurrence, resource assessment, exploration, production technologies, renewability, and future challenges.