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China successfully extracts gas from methane hydrate in South China Sea

China has successfully extracted gas from methane hydrate, an ice-like substance that is trapped in ice crystals, state-owned news agency Xinhua has reported.23 May 2017

China collected samples of the combustible substance in the South China Sea in what minister for land and resources Jiang Daming described as a "major breakthrough that may lead to a global energy revolution", Xinhua reported.

The success follows nearly two decades of research and exploration, the news site said.

The methane hydrate, sometimes called combustible ice, is usually found in seabed or tundra areas, which have the strong pressure and low temperature necessary for its stability. It can be ignited like solid ethanol, which is why it is called "combustible ice", Xinhua said.

One cubic meter of methane hydrate is equal to 164 cubic meters of regular natural gas, it said.

China first found methane hydrate in the South China Sea in 2007.

Japan announced plans last month for a second test to extract gas from methane deposits. Japan managed to extract gas from the deposits in 2013, it said.