Offshore coal to be extracted at borough’s coast

Tynemouth Longsands. Picture by John Millard.
Tynemouth Longsands. Picture by John Millard.

Work is expected to begin later this year to tap into major coal reserves under the North Sea off the borough coastline.

Newcastle-based 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.

But he dismissed fears platforms would be constructed off Tynemouth, saying it would all be land-based work with potential sites for their base being in Lynemouth, Blyth or Teesside.

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 process is to have small bore holes from sites onshore which will dig down then outwards to the sea.

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

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 that the company would be working to protect the environment and there was no risk of any environmental impact.

“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.”