Combustible ice is a natural gas hydrate found in tundra or seabed areas and could amount to the equivalent of about 80 billion tons of fossil fuel. When melted or depressurized, it turns into water and natural gas. It occurs in the East and South China seas, there are 11 ore bodies containing 150 million tons of combustible ice in South China Sea’s Shenhu region alone, but there are also international disputes as to the ownership. China’s annual consumption of fossil fuels is about 600 million tons, meaning China theoretically has enough ice to last 133 years. Mining techniques are presently studied at the National Institute for South China Sea Studies and at Guangzhou Marine Geological Survey, backed by China National Offshore Oil Corporation. Industrial production of combustible ice can be expected not earlier than 2030.

CAS news release, March 8, 2018