Services provided by UCG Engineering Limited (UCGEL)
UCG Engineering Ltd
The company was formed in 2004 to provide advisory and feasibility studies on UCG to Commercial Companies, State Organisations and Academia on UCG. It grew out of a successful self-employed consultancy working for the UK and other Governments, and has access to many other specialist disciplines, e.g, geology, coal processing, environmental impact, and drilling services to support the UCG studies. Its major successes have included advising oil and gas companies like Petrochina, BP, and joint founder of the UCG Partnership and Association, which contributed greatly to the stimulation of UCG developments around the world.
Introduction to Services UCG is the conversion of underground coal to syngas for power generation, hydrogen production or other heating or chemical uses. Recent trials have shown that the UCG process is controllable and sustainable using modern oil and gas drilling technologies. UCG in shallow coal seams can be very cost effective but may lead to environmental concerns. UCG in deeper seams (>600m depth) is more likely to be free of ground water contamination issues and both methane formation and cavity growth are enhanced at greater depth. Many countries are committed to major reductions in carbon emissions, and UCG has significant advantages over other methods of coal conversion. The successful exploitation of UCG, subsequently with CO2 capture and sequestration (CCS), could make a major contribution to a countries security of energy supply and its commitment to carbon emissions. Technical Experience and Support for UCG UCGEL can provide knowledge of UCG pilot and field operations as a result of the following: • Experience of the various stages of the European trial, including project formulation, plant construction and commissioning, gasification operations, process shut down and post-gasification drilling. • Knowledge of other trials currently taking place in China and Australia, and feasibility studies elsewhere. • Information on previous US trials from reports and personal contacts. • Network of UCG specialists around the world. • Experience on the setting-up of advisory groups and the integration of specialists from different disciplines. UCGEL can provide background research on UCG, pre-feasibility studies, detailed design of the underground UCG process and support equipment, studies of the environmental issues, economic assessments for power and hydrogen production and the processing of UCG product gas for carbon capture and sequestration. It has accumulated literature on UCG, which dates back to the 1960’s and includes a large amount of published and other material produced during the US trials, translated Russian work and a number of reports on the early UK studies. An important source on UCG has been the UK workshop (October 2003), which Michael Green as the DTI (Department of Trade and Industry,UK Government) consultant on UCG took responsibility for organising. In addition to the literature on the basic UCG technology, he has supervised the following studies in associated areas which could be covered in the research review: • UK evaluation of coal resources for UCG. • Environmental impact and European regulatory regime for UCG. • Clean-up of UCG product gas – SOx, NOx, heavy metals and particulates. • Sustainability issues and literature relevant to UCG and comparisons with alternative clean energy processes like IGCC and gas turbines. • CO2 capture and sequestration processes. • Directional drilling in coal and completion technology, including CRIP. • Economic models and application to UCG. UCGEL can produce tailored site selection criteria for any new project. Selection criteria for UCG (trial, semi-commercial and commercial UCG projects) have been established based on the UK experience of evaluating trial and commercial sites. In the UK, independent geologists have applied these selection criteria under UCGEL supervision for the site selection of trial and commercial sites. An option, if required, would be for UCGEL to subcontract experienced geologists. Process Engineering of Surface plant for UCG UCGEL has direct experience of producing the outline design for a UCG project, and has developed check lists for them. Previous UCG trial experience indicates that an operating manual would need to be prepared to describe each stage of the process and an overall plan produced for the development of the project. This was a substantial undertaking in the previous European project. Risk analysis The causes of project failure range from adverse geological or hydro-geological conditions to plant and regulatory failures, and at each stage of the project, there will be a reducing number of unknowns. This process has to be managed throughout the project, with back-up positions identified for each potential failure occurrence. This will usually involve assessing several sites in parallel for the initial stages of exploration and analysis. UCGEL can provide methodologies and data for the risk assessment and evaluate the project planning implications. Utilisation of UCG Gas CO2 capture, compression and transportation is likely to be a major consideration for any UCG project. The processing island on the surface will require CO2 capture to be available as a processing option. The technologies include physical absorption, membrane separation, and a range of processes to convert gases like CO and CH4 to hydrogen, if required. UCGEL has a memorandum of understanding with a US consultancy, which has experience and proprietary processes for the conversion of syngas to liquid hydrocarbons, namely high purity diesel fuel. Studies could be extended to include GTL conversion if required.An associated issue is the subsequent use of hydrogen as a transport fuel, or use in stationary power plant using fuel cells. UCG product gas is particularly well suited for hydrogen production, and could be used as an alternative to SMR reforming of natural gas for hydrogen production. Environmental Health & Safety and Regulatory Control • The content of environmental impact assessments (EIAs) • Groundwater Regulations • Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control legislation (IPPC) • Large Combustion Plant Directive (LPCD) • Air Quality Requirements UCG is a broad area for Health and Safety and will be subject to local interpretation for surface plant construction, coal seam working, and the drilling of process well. A further area of vital importance in any planning process is the public perception of UCG and associated processes like CO2 sequestration. Initial studies have been undertaken and planning approval has been sought for trial UCG projects. Detailed studies of the environmental issues have been undertaken of UCG under UCGELs supervision, including the requirements for Regulatory Approval. In addition, we can provide experiences of HSE requirements and public perceptions of UCG from both the European (Spain) study and the UK. Preliminary Economic Studies UCGEL has spreadsheet models for the economic evaluation of UCG, and studies have been undertaken of both UCG and CBM. The methodology provides an opportunity to undertake rapid economic assessments for specific site locations in different energy markets. UCGEL can provide much of the input data for the economic study, particularly in the area of coal drilling, where a special study has been undertaken. In-house Interactive Seminars We can undertake a programme of interactive seminars on UCG to major companies for the purposes of training and informing staff on the potential of UCG to their business. A recent such seminar produced for a major European company provided in-depth analysis of UCG. It covered the UCG trials around the world; it looked at the strategic issues of UCG and coal, and examined the underground processes and legislative issues involved. Further sessions were provided on the processing of syngas at surface and the vastly improving economics of UCG. UCG engineering is willing to quote for other bespoke and in-depth seminars for companies on request.