Digging up new business energy solutions.
Deep gas winningThe idea is the brainchild of Professor Harry Bradbury of Newcastle University, an institution which has incubated his own company, Five-Quarter, who have now gained rights to that area of the North Sea. We know about the oil, and we have long known there are seams of coal beneath the sea, just as we always presumed there could be no use for it, as it lies deep, deep, beneath. However, Professor Bradbury has devised an innovative method of horizontal drilling and extraction, which he has termed deep gas winning, a clever combination of engineering and mining. Here’s how it works. Two drills are driven into the coal. Then, oxygen is pumped down to burn the coal, which in turn releases not the coal itself, but the latent “syngas”, comprised of various other gases. The method has been used before, around the world, but this demonstration project, starting in the summer of 2013, will be a first for the UK, and the first to try the process under the sea. There are many other benefits to Professor Bradbury’s work. By creating these coalfields in the North Sea, it may actually renew interest in the North Sea area itself, and his process is also able to utilise the pre-existing oil drilling platforms, which means we can tap this fabulous resource not once, but twice – first for oil, and now for gas. Using the same infrastructure means it opens up much more cost-effective business energy solutions. Professor Bradbury claims just his 250 square mile area could yield more gas than the whole of the North Sea so far. And the good news for business energy consumers is that the gas can be used both in industry and the domestic market, and might be available as early as two years time, all of which may help to increase supply, and therefore drive down prices.
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