China claims to have successfully collected samples of natural gas hydrates (NGH) or combustible ice in the South China Sea.

Combustible ice is being touted by international scientists as an ideal replacement for oil and natural gas.

Successful extraction of it from the Shenhu area is a massive breakthrough that could pave way for a global energy revolution, said Chinese Minister of Land and Resources Jiang Daming, as reported in Shangai Daily.

It took around two decades of research and exploration for China to successfully mine flammable or combustible ice offshore for the first time.

China finally tasted success in mining flammable ice offshore after spending about two decades of research and exploration on the commodity. 

Chinese state-run Xinhau news agency had reported in the past that the country discovered flammable ice in the South China Sea in 2007.

In late March, China had commenced trial mining of NGH in the Shenhu sea, in an area that is 320kms away from Zhuhai City in Guangdong province in the southeast direction.

The first extraction of combustible ice was done at a depth of 1,266m last week.

Director of the trial mining commanding headquarters Qiu Haijun has been quoted in several media publications, as saying: "Many countries along the Maritime Silk Road have a demand for combustible ice mining.

"With the advanced technology we could help resolve the energy resource problem and boost economic development and exchanges between countries.”

The pilot production project owned by the China Geological Survey (CGS) under the Ministry of Land and Resources had chosen China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) is a partner.

Japan has also been attempting to exploit its natural gas hydrate resources like China. In mid April, the East Asian country revealed its plans to undertake a production test to extract methane gas from methane hydrate deposits discovered offshore along its central coast.

Image: China claims success in its pilot production of natural gas hydrates from South Sea. Photo: courtesy of China National Petroleum Corporation.