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S. Korean icebreaker finds gas hydrates in Arctic sea

A South Korean icebreaker exploring the Arctic discovered new gas hydrate reserves in the East Siberian Sea, the ship's operator said Monday.

The Korea Polar Research Institute (KOPRI) said the Aaron successfully extracted gas hydrates from about 500 meters under the East Siberian Sea, a marginal sea in the Arctic Ocean.

Gas hydrates refer to a semisolid mixture of methane gas and water molecules that are created through a combination of the water pressure and cold temperatures found in deep ocean bottoms.

The Araon, a 7,487-ton icebreaker, explored the region between Aug. 25 and last Saturday for gas hydrates deep at sea or in offshore permafrost layers.

"It was an important exploration to obtain data and samples that would be an important clue for the Arctic region," said Jin Yung-guen, a researcher at KOPRI.

Gas hydrates could greatly improve South Korea's self sufficiency in natural gas. About 20 percent of the global amount is known to be stored in the Arctic region. (Yonhap)