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Cluff secures third UCG licence for Forth estuary

Cluff secures third UCG licence for Forth estuary

Cluff Natural Resources has won another licence to produce underground coal gas from the Forth.

The Frances field off East Wemyss brings the number of sites below the river and its firth awarded to Cluff to three.

The company has the neighbouring site at Largo Bay and also has the Kincardine site off Grangemouth where it is planning to develop a production test project.

The new Frances field is north of two fields awarded to the rival Five Quarter company for its deep gas winnings process.

Algy Cluff (below), multi-millionaire chairman of CLNR, said: “We believe that underground coal gasification will help provide a cleaner energy, diversity of supply and energy security for the UK.

“The award of this additional UCG licence in the Firth of Forth considerably bolsters our position in the region and clearly demonstrates our commitment to becoming a long-term supplier of syngas to industry at Grangemouth and the surrounding energy intensive industries including power generation.”

At the former Frances Colliery site, the Coal Authority, sponsored by the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change, has awarded CLNR a deep UCG licence, option for lease and a non-exclusive exploration licence for an area of 77km2.

The move extends CLNR’s portfolio of licences in the Forth to a total of 192km2 and gives the company nine deep UCG licences in the UK covering 690km2.

Mr Cluff also announced an extension to its UCG licences in Cumbria for conventional coking coal mining.

It further has assets in the Southern North Sea for conventional gas exploration, and has an agreement with industry giants Halliburton to develop its activities.

Concern has been expressed that UCG projects do not fall within the scope of the moratorium on onshore unconventional oil and gas developments which have put fracking projects on hold.

An underground fire near an abandoned Australian coal gasification plant prompted calls last week for the process to be banned in Scotland.

Fife councillor Tom Adams, chairman of the central area planning committee, said uncontrolled burning and allegations of environmental harm at the plant in Queensland illustrated the fears which are being expressed by Scottish campaigners.

The discovery of toxic gases at private properties near the Queensland plant persuaded Mr Adams to declare his stance against the controversial UCG process.

“I think it’s about time it was banned altogether until there has been a decent trial somewhere,” he stated.

“I don’t want it here.

“If they are going to do it and they’re serious about it, let them do it in the North Sea, not where it’s close to land,” he added.

CLNR issued an assurance that their operation is different from the Australian one and will be closely monitored by health and safety bodies.

Andrew Nunn, chief operating officer, said the proposed UCG project in the Forth is targeting coals 1,000 metres below the surface and is different to the Australian project, which was gasifying coal at a depth of only 140 metres.

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