July 7, 2008

Energy from Gas Hydrates: Assessing the Opportunities and Challenges for Canada

The Expert Panel on Gas Hydrates

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Gas hydrates form when water and natural gas combine at low temperatures and high pressures — they are essentially natural gas in a “frozen” state. Some estimates suggest that the total amount of natural gas bound in hydrate form may exceed all conventional gas resources — coal, oil and natural gas, combined. Challenges for the extraction of gas from gas hydrates do exist however; there are economic considerations, potential environmental policy impacts, and unknown effects on communities.

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The Question

What are the challenges for an acceptable operational extraction of gas hydrates in Canada?

Key Findings

In late 2006, Natural Resources Canada asked the CCA to address the challenges of safely extracting gas from gas hydrates.

The Expert Panel on Gas Hydrates found that Canada is well-positioned to be a global leader in exploration, research and development, and the exploitation of gas hydrates. They also concluded that while there are no insurmountable technical problems with extracting gas from gas hydrates, it would be more costly than the production of conventional gas. In addition, the Panel determined that regardless of which type of gas was used — conventional or gas from gas hydrates — efforts must be made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Expert Panel

The Expert Panel on Gas Hydrates