Energy / Climate Change

July 16, 2005


Mitsui Shipbuilding Nears Practical Application of Natural Gas Hydrate Transport Technology

Keywords: Environmental Technology Manufacturing industry Renewable Energy 

Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding Co. (MES) has been developing natural gas hydrate (NGH) technology since fiscal 2000, and is now at the final stage for commercialization. The NGH technology offers a new way to transport and store natural gas, a clean energy source in great demand worldwide. MES plans to put its NGH technology into commercial applications by 2010 with a transportation and storage capacity of 400,000 to 500,000 tons of natural gas.

NGH is in a solid state at minus 20 degrees Celsius under atmospheric pressure, allowing storage of about 170 times the volume of gas. MES built a demonstration plant that can produce, pelletize and re-gasify 600 kilograms of NGH daily, and succeeded in continuous operation in February 2002. Preparing for commercial applications, MES is now developing a hydration plant with a production capacity of one million tons of NGH per year, and a cargo vessel of 130,000 tons laden weight.

Costwise, transporting NGH is much more economical and effective than transporting liquefied natural gas (LNG), which needs to be stored at an extremely low temperature of minus 162 degrees Celsius. MES estimates that the total initial investment required for NGH will be 23 percent lower ,and the price of delivered natural gas would be 19 percent lower than in the case of LNG, based on a calculation of one million tons of natural gas being transported 3,500 nautical miles per year (costs in the calculation include production of hydrate, transportation, storage, and re-gasification).

Since many small natural gas fields remain untapped worldwide due to their low profitability, the NGH technology is expected to offer more effective ways to use these resources.

Posted: 2005/07/16 02:18:55 PM
Japanese version