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Plans to drill for CBM in Stoke-on-Trent shelved

World Coal,

A propsed plan to extract coalbed methane (CBM) from beneath Stoke-on-Trent in the UK has been shelved, as councillors review the project’s viability.

The plans were first announced in the summer of 2013, as supporters of the project claimed thousands of jobs would be created.

However, the project was folded after findings suggested it was not viable and companies were wary of becoming partners with the city council.

Wardell Armstrong were commissioned to undertake a study to assess the geological conditions beneath parts of the City of Stoke-on-Trent with respect to methane content. The study will assist with the possible application of a Petroleum Exploration Development License (PEDL) application extraction of CBM.

The study from Wardell Armstrong included interpreting the geology of the Staffordshire (Potteries) Coalfield, with the use of British Geological Survey information including Borehole logs, shaft sections, geological memoirs and geological maps; assessing the extent of coal mining activities in the Stoke-on-Trent area using abandonment mine plans from the Coal Authority and evaluating potential development sites. Additionally, the company estimated the remaining in-situ coal, as well as the in-situ gas content within the Stoke-on-Trent city council boundary.

An intial analysis in September 2013 indicated the CBM project would cost £18.5 million to set up, and generate up to £37 million over 15 years.

But further analysis in March saw the capital cost increase to £46.4 million, which would not be recovered.

Despite these findings, the abandoned plan may yet be revived, as pro-extraction campaigners claim a CBM project could spark an “industrial revolution” in the region.

Councillor Andy Platt, cabinet member for green enterprises and clean city, said: “Energy security is really important to Stoke-on-Trent and it was crucial that we explored the potential economic benefits of coal bed methane in providing vital energy price stability.”

Platt added that while investigations confirmed significant gas deposits in place, they appear to be more difficult to extract than initial analysis suggested.

“While we can’t progress with this project now, we’ve done the groundwork to enable the city to exploit coal bed methane in future,” Platt concluded.

Written by Sam Dodson

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