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Joint expeditions by India and the United States have discovered large, highly enriched accumulations of natural gas hydrate (an icy form of the fuel) in Indian Ocean. 
The discovery was made by the Union Oil Ministry and the US Geological Survey in the Bay of Bengal. It was the result of the most comprehensive gas hydrate field venture in the world to date that comprised of scientists from India, Japan and the US. 

Significance 

This is the first of its kind discovery in the Indian Ocean that has the potential to be producible and opens up a new resource to meet needs of energy hungry India. 
The discovery will help unlock the global energy resource potential of gas hydrates as well as help define the technology needed to safely exploit (extract) them. 

What are Natural gas hydrates? 
  • Natural gas hydrates are a naturally occurring, ice-like combination of natural gas and water. They are mainly found in oceans and Polar Regions. 
  • Gas hydrates are considered as vast resources of natural gas. They are known to occur in marine sediments on continental shelf margins. 
  • Composition: By nature Gas hydrates is mostly methane (CH4). Methane gas hydrate is most stable at the seafloor at water depths beneath about 500 meters. 

Distribution of Gas hydrates 
  • The amount of gas within the world’s gas hydrate accumulations is estimated to greatly exceed the volume of all known conventional gas resources.
  • In India, gas hydrate resources are estimated at 1,894 trillion cubic meters (tcm) and these deposits occur in Eastern, Western and Andaman offshore areas. 
  • It is postulated that gas hydrate deposits along ocean margins are estimated to exceed known petroleum reserves by a factor of three


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