Getting Geophysical in Japan

The Japanese are at the forefront of geophysical exploration in a number of areas. This latest expedition, organized and funded by Meiji University, was a showcase for the science and engineering talent currently focused on the exploration of frozen methane hydrates on and below the seafloor.

There are credible estimates that the potential hydrocarbon reserves in the form of gas hydrates exceeds that of all the known reserves of terrestrial oil and gas worldwide.

Trinity Offshore provided ROV support for drilling operations aboard the Fukada Salvage vessel Poseidon-1. For this mission the vessel was equipped with a drill rig which allowed core samples to be captured in areas where substantial gas hydrate deposits were suspected. The locations and results are, for the moment, not in the public domain but it is safe to say that the operation was a success.
Drill rig
The drill rig dominated the vessel and was the focal point of all activity on board. Command and control functions extended from basic operation of the drill itself to control of multiple winches and associated heave compensation systems. Even for someone with a technical background, it was an awesome thing to watch.
The ROV was used for seabed survey (HD video) in preparation for drilling at each site. The ROV also proved useful for spotting during drill deployment and recovery and was called upon for troubleshooting when unexpected obstacles were encountered subsea. The vehicle is an ISE Hysub 50. The launch and recovery system was furnished by Sound Ocean Systems.


Ultimately a success, this lengthy and at times challenging expedition is expected to be the first of a series of such efforts aimed at determining the extent and location of gas hydrate reserves in Japan's exclusive economic zone.


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