Peter Bond on underground coal gasification | Linc Energy | Video
The New Economy interviews Peter Bond, CEO and Chairman of Linc Energy, on underground coal gasificationShow transcript
Linc Energy has been developing and operating underground coal gasification technology for 11 years – technology that can extract clean gas from conventionally inaccessible coal seams. Peter Bond discusses the benefits of the technology, as well as the synergy opportunities with enhanced oil recovery and carbon capture.
The New Economy: Let’s start with Linc Energy’s core business: clean energy. How is the business structured to tap into that growing sector?
Peter Bond: Linc is based around two or three core technologies, but basically underground goal gasification. It’s a way of creating a clean coal conduit. So, we can tap into stranded coal anywhere in the world. So for example in the north of England, Europe, Asia, Australia, North America; we can tap into deep stranded coal seems that aren’t going to get used in the next two, three, four generations, and we turn that into clean gas.
Clean gas can then be turned into clean fuel or power generation. So, the mainstay of Linc’s clean generation is through underground coal gasification. And our ownership of several billion tonnes of coal around the world has become the cornerstone of our being able to tap into that. So we are an energy company that uses underground coal gasification as a conduit to tap into that energy.
The New Economy: And it’s proven technology, because in fact you’ve been using it in Queensland for more than a decade?
Peter Bond: That’s correct. I mean, we’ve been operating for over 11 years now in Queensland, and it’s been very successful. We’re just rolling out a fifth generation, which is our commercial generation of the technology, which will be rolled out around the world. It’s an amazing technology; what we’ve done with it over the last five years is just phenomenal. We also own UROSIGAS, which is one of the original Russian technology brands that developed underground coal gasification. And that’s celebrating 50 years this year of using underground coal gas to run a commercial power station, so, there’s 50 years of thoroughbred potential here that the western world needs to start really focusing on. There’s a lot there we can do with it.
The New Economy: You’re on the acquisition trail in the US, particularly around enhanced oil recovery. What are the details?
Peter Bond: Well, one of the things we can do with UCG – underground coal gasification – is that we can either have a very small CO2 footprint, or we can have a larger CO2 footprint. When we look at some of our coal seams around the world, particularly in Wyoming, across the Powder River Basin, we have a lot of coal over the top of depleted oil fields. You start to be able to use the gas from UCG to be able to get enhanced oil recovery.
So, we started to buy up oil fields, originally in Wyoming, and now Texas and a few other locations. So we’re building out quite a large oil arm on the back of that.
The New Economy: And staying in the US, Alaska is a new frontier for you too. What’s the development there?
Peter Bond: Well Alaska’s very exciting, on the back of our oil front that we’re pushing. We’ve been able to gain a couple of resources. One of those is Umiat, where it’s got a billion barrels of oils in place. Now that’s very exciting, it could be worth many billions of dollars in the near future for Lincs. It’s one of the cornerstones of our future in terms of oil going forward.
The New Economy: With all your worldwide interests, it’s great to see you here in London. What are the company’s interests here in the UK?
Peter Bond: We’ve just opened a new London office, and I’m quite excited about that. That office will run pretty much our European focus. We’re taking a number of coal leases; predominantly in eastern Europe, we may take some in the UK as well. With the idea of our three focuses, which is underground coal gasification, coal, and oil. And focusing on that.
The New Economy: And in Europe you’re looking at a German carbon capture company. That’s an interesting technology, what are the prospects there?
Peter Bond: Well that particularly company has been doing research where the caverns that are left by underground coal gasification – because underground coal gasification is a bit like mining underground, where it actually takes the coal and converts it into gas, and leaves a cavity just like an underground coal mine. Well because of the heat involved, you end up with a charcoal cavern; effectively activated carbon. The university we’re working with has been able to discover that by pumping liquid CO2 down there, you can get up to 400 times more CO2 into that cavity than you normally would. Subsequently there’s a huge opportunity to create a carbon sink in Europe; so that’s one of the things we’re investigating.
The New Economy: Now Peter, I read on your website that you’ve driven a diesel car across Australia on your own ultra-clean synthetic diesel fuel, created from your own underground coal. That must have been quite a ride.
Peter Bond: That was fantastic! One of my goals when I floated Linc Energy on the ASX was to drill out the coal, develop UCG, and then turn that gas into clean fuels, clean diesel. And then use that to drive a car across Australia. So, to have proved the point that we indeed have drilled out the coal, have created the clean gas, and have created clean fuel in quite a large plan – if you have a look at the website, you’ll see it – and prove that by driving 6,000km across the country, in a car that drove better and faster, and more efficiently, than it would have if it was on normal diesel. That was a great achievement. And in fact I had my two sons in the car for half the journey, and it was a nice feeling. It was… yeah. One of the highlights.
The New Economy: So the momentum is building behind these technologies. Where do you see Linc Energy in, let’s say, five years time?
Peter Bond: Linc is building into a diversified energy group, where we have oil and growing oil opportunities, which have a couple of focuses on drilling and enhanced oil recovery. We are pushing our coal business and selling more and more coal. But predominantly the clean coal business, where I see that as having a massive medium-to-long term future, particularly in clean coal, and some of the other investments we’re making in that clean energy group.
So in five years time I want to be producing 100-150,000 barrels a day of clean fuels and oil, and I see Linc as being a significant contributor to the new energy economy.
The New Economy: Peter Bond, thank you very much.
Peter Bond: Thank you.