A joint expedition team, including the US Geological Survey (USGS), the Indian government and Japanese scientists, have found natural gas hydrate deposits in the Krishna-Godavari Basin in the Bay of Bengal.

The discovery is being hailed as the first of its kind in the Indian Ocean with a potential to be producible.

These natural gas hydrates are a naturally-occurring, ice-like combination of natural gas and water found in world’s oceans and polar regions. The amount of natural gas present in these gas hydrates is estimated to be much more than the volume of all known conventional gas resources.

USGS said that the discovery was possible because of the most comprehensive gas hydrate field venture in the world till date, comprising of scientists of US, India and Japan.

The team had conducted several tests including ocean drilling, conventional sediment coring, pressure coring, downhole logging and analytical activities to assess the geologic occurrence, regional context and characteristics of gas hydrate deposits in the offshore of India.

This research expedition, called the Indian National Gas Hydrate Program Expedition 02, is the second joint exploration for gas hydrate potential in the Indian Ocean.

The first expedition, which comprised of US and Indian scientists also found gas hydrate deposits, but not on this scale.

According to USGS, there are technical challenges in extracting natural gas from gas hydrate deposits, which can also depend on location and the type of formation.

Studies have shown that highly concentrated gas hydrates in sand reservoirs are the ones that can be most easily produced with existing technologies.

The present sites of gas hydrates will need to be tested for whether or not natural gas can be extracted from them.

USGS Senior Scientist Tim Collett who participated in the expedition said: “The results from this expedition mark a critical step forward to understanding the energy resource potential of gas hydrates.

“The discovery of what we believe to be several of the largest and most concentrated gas hydrate accumulations yet found in the world will yield the geologic and engineering data needed to better understand the geologic controls on the occurrence of gas hydrate in nature and to assess the technologies needed to safely produce gas hydrates.”

Image: The deepwater D/S Chikyu as deployed during NGHP-02. Photo: Courtesy JAMSTEC.