China Succeeds in Extracting Gas from Flammable Ice under the Sea

The rig in the South China Sea that extracts gas from combustible ice. Photo: Xinhua

I had a post on May 19 titled “China World Leader in Fuel Ice Exploitation Technology” about China’s success in test extraction of gas from flammable ice (methane hydrate). Though the US, Canada and Japan have also been making efforts to do so, China is the first to succeed in such test extraction.

Today SCMP says in its report “China reports smooth production of gas from ‘flammable ice’ under the sea” that since May 19, China has succeeded in continuous extracting such gas and reached the capacity of daily extraction of 6,800 cubic meters of gas without giving rise to any pollution.

According to People’s Daily, China has found reserves of methane hydrate in the South China Sea matching 70 billion tons of oil, which is equal to half China’s total oil and natural gas reserves on land. The development of methane hydrate extraction technology will enable China to cease energy import if China has succeeded in improving the technology for mass production.

The extraction is now conducted by China’s homegrown deep-water oil rig Bluewhale 1 in the South China Sea 300 km away from Hong Kong.

Summary and comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s report, full text of which can be found at


China World Leader in Fuel Ice Exploitation Technology

World largest and deepest oil rig Blue Whale I. Global Times photo

SCMP says in its report “The promising new energy source Beijing is tapping from the South China Sea and why it matters” today, “With its successful collection of methane gas from icy methane hydrate, China joined other nations exploring a potential and abundant clean energy resource”.

“Under the China-claimed waters in the South China Sea, mainland scientists found icy deposits with energy content matching 70 billion tons of oil. That was half the country’s total oil and natural gas reserves on land, according to a People’s Daily article on Thursday, says SCMP. “The test production was carried out by Blue Whale 1, the world’s largest and deepest drilling rig. Built last year, the domestically designed and constructed platform could operate in almost any waters in the world,”

According to Europe’s, with an operational depth up to 3.658 meters and drilling depth to 15,240 meters, Bluewhale I can operate in all global waters. It is the ninth deepwater semi-submersible drilling rig delivered by China’s CIMC Raffles.

Global Times says in its report “China is world leader in fuel ice test exploitation technology, achieving stable gas production for 8 consecutive days” today that test exploitation of fuel ice has always been a difficult issue in the world. The US and Canada began dealing with the issue earlier, but as they have rich energy resources, they have not made real efforts. Like China that seriously depends on energy import, Japan has made great efforts but failed yet to achieve continuous test exploitation.

China has developed brand new technology for the test exploitation. Its success perhaps also due to its use of Blue Whale I, a much better equipment than the ship Japan uses in its text exploitation.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP and Global Times’ reports, full text of SCMP’s report can be found at and that of Global times in Chinese can be viewed at

China Finds New ‘Fire Ice’ Reserves at Pearl River Mouth Basin

The remote controlled submersible the Seahorse

The remote controlled submersible the Seahorse. Photo from SCMP report

SCMP says in its report titled “Beijing finds fresh ‘fire ice’ reserves in South China Sea” that according to Guangzhou Daily’s report confirmed by Chinese government, “A new reserve of ‘combustible ice’ has been identified in the South China Sea near the Pearl River mouth basin”. It “could contain the equivalent of 100 to 150 billion cubic metres of natural gas.”

China has developed a remote-controlled diving vessel the Seahorse to conduct its exploration of the sea bed as deep as 4,500 meters. The vessel discovered the ‘fire ice’ reserves in its maiden exploration.

Full text of SCMP report can be viewed at

Source: SCMP “Beijing finds fresh ‘fire ice’ reserves in South China Sea”