Survey institute to explore undersea hydrate gas


TAIPEI, Taiwan — The Central Geological Survey institute under the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) will begin a four-year research project in 2008 to investigate hydrate gases on the ocean floor off Taiwan’s southwest coast, an institute official said yesterday.

The announcement came after the institute geologically mapped the areas off Taiwan’s southwest and northeast coasts over the last few years.

The institute kicked off a series of projects to map the areas in 2001 as part of the government’s efforts to understand the country’s marine resources in order to better explore the use of them, Chiang Chung-jung, deputy director of the institute, said.

In recent years, a massive amount of hydrate gas, also known as “combustible ice, “ has been discovered in many parts of the world, including areas off Taiwan’s southwest coast, Chiang said.

It is estimated that the total volume of combustible ice is twice that of all currently available petroleum fuels, Chiang added.

Given skyrocketing oil prices,many coastal countries — including the United States, Japan, and Canada — have begun studying the future use of combustible ice, Chiang went on.

According to the institute’s preliminary estimates, there are approximately 500 billion cubic meters of hydrate gas in the region, enough for over 65 years of use, Chiang noted, describing.