Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) in Swansea Bay

(Letter to the South Wales Evening Post)

The Lougher Estuary proposal (Coal firms bid to produce energy from under estuary, page 4, Tuesday 28 September) is part of a wider plan to exploit the coal seams under Swansea Bay.

The spokesman for Cluff Coal states that Underground Coal Gasification (UCG), had been demonstrated on a commercial basis in the US. I have serious doubts about this statement.

What has been demonstrated is that it is possible to extract gas from ignited underground coal seams in commercial quantities; but they are a long way from demonstrating that it is safe to do so.

The companies involved will, of course, tell you that it is perfectly safe and controllable, glossing over the fact that currently there are thousands of underground coal seam fires burning uncontrolled across the world.

In Germany there are records showing one coal seam that burned continuously for over 400 years, and another that was first ignited in 1668 continues to burn today.

In Centralia, Pennsylvania an underground coal seam has been burning since May 1962. This has resulted in the whole borough being cleared of residents and all properties being seized by the state and condemned.

To deliberately set light to any underground coal seam is utter folly; to propose to do this beneath the sea is sheer madness. In areas as environmentally sensitive as the Lougher Estuary and Swansea Bay it is totally unacceptable.


Keith M Ross

PS – Regular readers to this blog will know of our opposition to fracking. UCG is extreme energy of an even more reckless kind.

See: Http://frack-off.org.uk/underground-coal-gasification-hellfire-and-damnation/

3 thoughts on “Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) in Swansea Bay

  1. D. W. Bailey

    UCG has never been demonstrated on a commercial basis in the USA. There have been six field experiment locations. These were in the states of Washington, West Virginia, Wyoming and Texas but all were research and development projects. I was associated with the field programs run by two major oil companies in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.


  2. Alan Tootill

    A memorandum SG1 by DECC in the 2010/2011 session stated re UCG

    “The technique has not yet been demonstrated to be commercial anywhere in the world, though there is one long-running project in Uzbekistan.”


  3. Alan Borrowman

    Keith, this is deliberate misinformation and irrational scaremongering. Can you quote one instance where UCG has caused an uncontrolled fire ? No, I thought so. What you are ignoring is the fact that coal needs air or oxygen to burn, but it cannot reach the depths where UCG is carried out unless it is pumped there. If it is pumped, it can be stopped. And why is doing it under the sea wrong ? Surely, that reduces any risks compared to doing it under land. Given the future energy problems we face, with over-dependence on useless windmills, this anti-technology attitude has to be viewed as very anti-social and condemned accordingly.



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