North Sea coal reserves to be mined

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Two coastal sites have been identified as potential bases for a new facility tapping into coal reserves under the North Sea.

Work is expected to start later this year to extract the massive coal reserves off the south east Northumberland coastline.

Newcastle-based pioneering clean energy company Five Quarter has plans in place to begin work extracting the coal for gas, which could support both the north east and UK for several decades with energy.

The company, which specialises in the infrastructure needed for the extraction of unconventional gas from rocks below the North Sea, has licences in place from Tynemouth to the Scottish Borders.

Chairman and CEO Harry Bradbury said they would be targeting coal and shale between 350m and 3km below the seabed.

And the company is hoping to create 500 new jobs around the drilling crews and up to 2,000 jobs through its ‘Deep Gas Winning’ process.

Dr Bradbury said: “The whole process is to extract gas from rocks, an extension of what we, the region, has been dealing with from coal mining.

“The whole process is to have small bore holes from sites onshore which will dig down then outwards to the sea to extract the gas.

“It’s all land based work, these will be six-inch diameter bore holes, nothing huge.

“It’s very difficult to find suitable brownfield sites at the coast.

“There are places such as Alcan and Lynemouth, they could be facilities.

“We spent a lot of time helping Northumberland County Council get enterprise zone status for Blyth and there are a number of sites at Blyth that are suitable for industrial development.”

He added: “We hope to start the process by the end of the year.

“It’s an ongoing programme, within our North Sea we have significant resources that could provide energy and jobs to this region, and the UK, for many decades.

“We’ve got 600sq km under licence. The North Sea has three trillion tonnes of coal under it.”

Dr Bradbury said the work would also secure jobs at the chemical site in Teesside, which would then secure jobs in the local manufacturing industry.

He also said the company would be working to protect the environment and there was no risk of any environmental impact on the river Blyth or coastlines.

“Our directors have spent the last 25 years in different organisations protecting the environment,” said Dr Bradbury.

“We’re going well beyond what other people are currently doing. We’re removing carbon altogether so we’re not producing any greenhouse gases.

“We’re not impacting the seabed and we’re not touching sealife.

“The whole purpose of bringing gas out of the ground is to make use of energy.

“We can provide that energy, we can produce clean fuels from it.”

Elsewhere, the DECC Coal Authority has invited tenders for four Underground Coal Gasification conditional licenses for the North Sea between Lynemouth and Whitley Bay.

A spokesperson said the licences were just to ascertain if any work would be viable, with the process likely to take three to five years, and any full licences would need approval from a number of organisations.

He added: “They would need planning approval, environmental approval and a full licence from ourselves.

“It’s quite time consuming. That’s after they determine if they have a viable project or not.”