Beijing explores energy-rich area of South China Sea where ‘flammable ice’ – a potential new gas source – is found


Newest vessels take samples from ocean floor at site of China’s first find of active methane hydrates, a potential new natural gas source

China has carried out deepwater exploration in an energy-rich area of the disputed South China Sea, its minerals research agency said on Wednesday. This comes as the latest in a series of manoeuvres by China in the sea, which it claims to own despite competing claims by other countries.

Two of the country’s latest underwater vessels – which can dive to a depth of 4,500m – were used for the three-day mission last weekend, carrying out scientific research at an ocean site west of the Pearl River estuary in southern China.
Wooden Philippine boats retracing historic voyage to China
The area, dubbed “Seahorse Cold Seep” by Beijing, is the location of China’s first find of active methane hydrates, an energy resource, in the South China Sea, discovered during exploration in 2015.

Also called “flammable ice”, methane hydrates have been identified as a potential new natural gas source for China, which still imports the majority of its energy.