BEIJING, Nov 16 (Reuters) - China’s State Council has approved methane hydrate as a new mineral resource, providing legal status for exploration and its development as an energy resource, the Ministry of Land and Resources said on Thursday.
** China first tapped methane hydrate, or “flammable ice”, in June 2007 in the Shenhu area of the South China Sea, the ministry said.
** China plans two to three methane hydrate prospecting pilot zones, it said, without giving a timeline.
** China National Petroleum Corp in August took the lead signing one of the first pilot projects with Guangdong province. Industry experts have said there is no technology yet to commercially unlock the potential energy source.
Reporting by Chen Aizhu; editing by Richard Pullin