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Algy Cluff backs coal gasification over shale

World Coal,

The CEO of Aim-listed Cluff Natural Resources, Algy Cluff, has told leaders of the Scottish National Party (SNP) that Scotland has a new gas industry waiting to be developed that for all intents and purposes trumps investment in controversial shale gas drilling and exploration.

Cluff said that huge reserves under the Firth of Forth could provide a new source of gas for power plants and industry. He has had discussions with Fergus Ewing, the Scottish Energy minister, about coal gasification’s potential contribution to the economy.

In the debate over Scottish independence from the UK – which will run up to and after the referendum set to be held on 18 September – energy has been a central issue. While the treasury posits that estimates over future North Sea oil and gas revenues are too optimistic, supporters of independence say that their estimates are right on the money.

The emergence of a new gas source from underground coal beds has not figured in any calculations. Cluff made a point to emphasise that, in pointing out the benefits of coalbed methane (CBM) extraction and underground coal gasification (UCG), he is not making a political point. Cluff said he sees the Firth of Forth development providing benefits both north and south of the border.

Coal reservoirs off the Cumbrian coast, as well as those identified under the Firth of Forth, have been marked by Cluff as the best initial development opportunities.

Cluff  has assembled a project team and is drawing up drilling plans and looking to the Government to provide incentives and match the support being offered to shale.

He said: “After 18 months we’re on the map. We’ve been pioneers and unquestionably this is gong to work. The UK desperately needs the energy.”

Coal gasification, involving the production of synthetic gas from deep coal seams needs just two wells, one to inject air and water and the other to bring the gas to the surface has been long on the drawing board. Studies and EU trials have increased confidence but Cluff is gambling on more Government support and successfully developing partnerships.

While the UK government has sow-far shown an inclination to favour the controversial development of the UK’s shale bed resources, Cluff questioned whether the enthusiasm for shale will pay off. He explained that it was always an obvious choice, his plumping for coal gasification rather than shale, for his latest business venture. He said: “I didn’t even toy with the idea. I always thought shale was going to engage two enemies, Friends of the Earth and the entire British middle class.”

Edited from various sources by Sam Dodson

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