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Posted Thu May 20 2010: from BBC:
Methane hydrates rear their ugly head: Did they cause the BP Gulf explosion?
The vast deepwater methane hydrate deposits of the Gulf of Mexico are an open secret in big energy circles. They represent the most tantalizing new frontier of unconventional energy -- a potential source of hydrocarbon fuel thought to be twice as large as all the petroleum deposits ever known. For the oil and gas industry, the substances are also known to be the primary hazard when drilling for deepwater oil. Methane hydrates are volatile compounds -- natural gas compressed into molecular cages of ice. They are stable in the extreme cold and crushing weight of deepwater, but are extremely dangerous when they build up inside the drill column of a well. If destabilized by heat or a decrease in pressure, methane hydrates can quickly expand to 164 times their volume... something that would render a man six feet six inches tall suddenly the height of the Eiffel Tower.... Professor Sum said geologists know much less about these hydrate-bearing sediments than conventional ocean sediments, and that there is "little knowledge of the risks" of drilling into them.... [T]estifying before the Senate last week, a Halliburton executive made no mention of methane hydrate hazards associated with cementing in deepwater.... Japan has joined the US and Canada in pursuit of this energy bonanza, motivated by the $23 billion it spends annually to import liquefied natural gas. According to a Bloomberg News article called "Japan Mines Flammable Ice, Flirts with Environmental Disaster," the Japanese trade ministry is targeting 2016 to start commercial production, even as a Tokyo University scientist warned against causing a massive undersea landslide that could suddenly trigger a massive methane hydrate release.
[Read more stories about: unintended consequences, feedback loop]

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'Doc Michael says:
Which part of "methane is 20 times worse than CO2" don't you understand?

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