Tokyo, 7th January 2016 (WAM) — Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will conduct its second attempt to extract methane hydrate, deemed promising as a next-generation energy source, off the central Japan prefectures of Aichi and Mie, officials have said.

The ministry plans to start drilling work as early as this spring, in order to produce natural gas from methane hydrate under the seafloor in January-March 2017, according to the officials.

In March 2013, Japan successfully extracted methane hydrate, also known as “fiery ice,” for the first time in the world. But it had to end the operation earlier than scheduled due to a problem with equipment, Jiji Press reported.

After some technical improvements, the ministry will carry out the retrial in hopes of securing a stable domestic energy source.

Methane hydrate is a sherbet-like substance made of crystallized methane trapped in water ice that is created in a high-pressure, low-temperature environment. Methane is the chief component of natural gas.