New Delhi: An international team of scientists led by Oil and Natural Gas Corp. Limited of India (ONGC) and United States Geological Survey (USGS) have announced the discovery of large highly enriched accumulations of natural gas hydrates in the Bay of Bengal.

The USGS scientists described it as the first discovery of its kind in the Indian Ocean that has the potential to be producible.

Gas hydrates are methane molecules trapped in ice usually found in the world’s oceans and polar regions. Theoretically, each cubic metre slab of hydrate contains about 164 cu. m of methane or natural gas.

“Advances like the Bay of Bengal discovery will help unlock the global energy resource potential of gas hydrates as well help define the technology needed to safely produce them," said Walter Guidroz, USGS Energy Resources Program coordinator, in a press release on Monday. The international team also included scientists from the Japanese Drilling Company, and the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology.

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