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Clathrate deposits may break down & release methane to the atmosphere as AGW occurs. Mining these deposits will avoid uncontrolled release.


Description

Summary

Dissociation of methane hydrate (clathrate) deposits have been postulated by a number of authors as a possible cause of paleoclimate and potential future climate transitions (see references section).

Established proposals exist for the commercial extraction of methane by controlled clathrate dissociation (see related proposals section).   This may be extended to unstable but uneconomic deposits.  Extraction operations may risk inadvertent destabilization of surrounding deposits, necessitating caution.  The ConocoPhillips trial suggests injecting CO2 into hydrates, which retains their structural integrity, and additionally sequesters the CO2 used.


Category of the action

Geoengineering


What actions do you propose?


Who will take these actions?


Where will these actions be taken?


What are other key benefits?

Clathrates are a major potential energy source, already attracting significant investment from the oil and gas industry.  Therefore, energy recovery is a co-benefit.


What are the proposal’s costs?

Clathrate extraction proposals should be economically viable, regardless of any climate benefits - which explains the current level of investment in the discipline.  The costly element of this technique is the adaptation of the techniques to ensure a tight focus on unstable deposits, which have the potential to release methane into the atmosphere without intervention.  The gas industry will instead naturally wish to focus instead on the most cost-effective extraction.  Furthermore, irresponsible extraction has the potential to cause fugitive emissions, resulting in a net *increase* in methane excursions to the atmosphere.  Therefore the cost burden pivots on the targetting of operations, and regulation of the sector.


Time line


Related proposals


References