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  • » 10/17/2009, 00.00

    CHINA - TIBET

    Tibet: huge methane reservoir discovered under ice



    It could provide energy independence for China. But the methane hydrates, also known as "ice that burns", are also one of the most polluting agents in the world.

    Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - In the tundra of Tibet “the secret to energy independence for China is hidden, opening up the road to environmentally sustainable development without oil." This was declared yesterday a representative of the Chinese Ministry for Land and Resources, who explained: "Under the ice of Tibet and Qinghai our geologists have found the largest underground reservoir of methane hydrates”. The fuel, known as "ice that burns" is characteristic of the Chinese underground, in shape and thickness, it looks like solidified water. But if it is burned, it releases clean energy; methane is indeed a clean fuel that emits carbon dioxide and water. As a natural gas it can be transported through pipes, by ships or trucks.

    According to the ministry, this is the most important geological discovery to have been made in China since 1959, when they found some oil deposits. The energy value of the estimated new supply of "ice that burns" is equivalent to 255.5 billion barrels of crude oil; approximately, 200 times the domestic production of oil. Immediately after the announcement, the Shanghai market witnessed the value of the energy company shares sky rocket.

    But some scientists warn of the danger connected to hydrates: If released into the air, in fact, they cause pollution 25 times that of carbon dioxide. Currently, the reserve is protected by the natural ice that covers it, but the gradual melting of the perennial ice caps is likely to release its destructive power. Professor Qingbai Wu, deputy director of the state laboratory of Lanzhou, calls it "the most serious concern for the global climate. When most people talk about greenhouse gas emissions from China, they are talking about cars and factories ... but methane hydrates, if they do exist in Tibet in a huge quantity, actually pose the biggest threat”.

     

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    See also

    24/11/2004 CHINA
    Economy must grow or the system breaks down

    Oil imports must rise to quench the country's energy thirst. Coal has already done enough damage to people and environment.



    12/06/2009 CHINA
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    Two energy companies, China Huaneng Group e China Huadian Group, are accused of damming a river without approval to build hydro-electric plants.

    05/05/2006 CHINA - RUSSIA
    More toxic pollution from China's Songhua River reaching Russia
    Tonnes of benzene spewed into the Songhua last November were trapped in ice. Thawing is now making the water unfit for drinking.

    13/03/2008 CHINA - TIBET
    Olympics: China prepares a show with 10,000 children, and a Tibet without Tibetans
    The first details emerge about the opening ceremony: 10,000 children from all over the world will laugh and sing together, a symbol of love and hope. But Everest will be off limits to everyone when the torch passes at 8,850 metres, to avoid showing pro-Tibet activists on television.

    30/01/2009 CHINA - EU
    Wen Jiabao and Barroso talk about the economy. Silence on human rights
    The next China-EU summit is in April. The theme: presenting a united front on the economic crisis; commercial and cultural cooperation; joint work on the climate. Taiwanese, Tibetans, Falun Gong, and Amnesty International are calling for efforts on human rights, but with no results. On February 9, China must undergo its periodic examination on human rights by the UN commission in Geneva.



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