The quest to mine frozen methane has taken a big step forward—Japanese officials say their researchers have, for the first time anywhere, extracted gas from an underwater deposit of methane hydrate, reports the BBC. (Methane hydrates are also known as "fire ice," notes the Washington Post.) Production tests are expected to continue for two weeks on the field by the state-owned Japan Oil, Gas, and Metals National Corporation.
"It is the world's first offshore experiment producing gas from methane hydrate," says one government official. Japan currently imports almost all its oil and gas. If it can make it commercially viable to get natural gas from fire ice, that "could have huge implications for both energy and climate change," writes the Post's Brad Plumer. We're still probably five years away from that possibility, however. (Read more Japan stories.)