Vietnam cooperates with Russia on gas hydrate research

TN News

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Vietnam has joined hands with Russia to research gas hydrates and other mineral resources on the bottom of the East Sea, a resource-rich and disputed body of water known internationally as the South China Sea, an official told on Saturday(February 16).

Details of the study have yet to be revealed.

According to Nguyen Van Cu, chief of the Vietnam Sea and Islands General Department, the potential of Vietnam's sea is "enormous."

Cu said a 100-meter survey of Vietnamese waters showed that they are rich in a variety of mineral resources including titanium, zirconium, gold and many other precious metals and materials for construction. But the country has only carried out research on one out of every 500,000 current resources.

Further studies should be undertaken if the country wants to exploit those resources, he said, without providing any more details.

Gas hydrate, also known as methane clathrate and fire ice, is an ice-like solid compound of methane or sometimes other gases such as ethane or propane and water at the high pressure of over 30 atm and low temperature of under zero degree centigrade.

Several deposits of gas hydrate, which are said to be a potential energy source of the future have been found in sediment beneath the ocean floor, within and beneath permafrost areas.

Nguyen Chu Hoi of the Vietnam Sea and Islands General Department quoted the United States Geological Survey as saying in late 2011 that Vietnam's sea was ranked fifth in Asia for its gas hydrate potential.

In 2007, Vietnamese government approved a research study on gas hydrate potential in Vietnamese waters and continental shelf areas, according to a Vietnam News Agency report.

China Daily last May reported that China has planned to collect new samples of gas hydrate this year in the northern part of the South China Sea in an effort to reduce its dependence on oil and coal. The country first discovered the gas hydrate resource in 2007 after a nine-year research project. 

The newspaper cited Yang Shengxiong, chief engineer of the Guangzhou Marine Geological Survey Bureau at the Ministry of Land and Resources as saying that an estimated volume of 19.4 billion cubic meters of the ice-like substance can be found in already-explored waters.

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