Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) has reported a methane hydrate discovery of some 1.1 trillion cum of estimated gas in place in a section of the Nankai Trough about 50km off eastern Japan. The figure includes recoverable and unrecoverable gas in natural methane hydrate in the area, the METI statement said. State-run Japan Oil, Gas & Metals Corp. assessed the 5000-sq-km area as part of a project to draw gas from the hydrate. As a result of the find, METI said it will broaden the scope of its exploratory efforts in Japan’s coastal seabeds, which are thought to hold substantial deposits of methane hydrate which as yet cannot be produced economically. Depending on the outcome, Japan expects to start trial exploitation of methane hydrate deposits from the Pacific Ocean floor in 2009 with the hope of beginning commercial output from 2017.