Cluff off: Firm leaves Firth of Forth gas plans behind

Grangemouth refinery viewed from Kincardine Bridge. Picture: TSPL
Grangemouth refinery viewed from Kincardine Bridge. Picture: TSPL

An Energy company has pulled the plug on its ambitious underground coal gasification plans in the Firth of Forth near Kincardine.

Cluff Natural Resources planned to build the UK’s first deep offshore underground coal gasification (UCG) plant in the area, but that was put on hold when the Scottish Government put its moratorium on fracking and unconventional gas extraction in place at the start of 2015 and then followed that with a similar ban on UCG in October.

Cluff has a total of nine UCG licences in the UK – including six in England and Wales which are not subject to the Scottish moratorium.

The firm stated it was moving its primary focus from UCG to develop its portfolio of conventional oil and gas licences in the southern North Sea.

It added: “This was precipitated by the introduction of a moratorium on UCG in Scotland in October 2015 despite previous assurances the company had received from the Scottish government.

“The moratorium will remain in place, pending a government study and public consultation, which is expected to conclude in spring 2017. While the company is confident the evidence in relation to UCG will result in the moratorium being lifted, it has stopped all expenditure related to the Kincardine Project.”

Environmental groups welcomed the announcement, with campaigners claiming UCG is a dangerous practice and stating they hoped the moratorium would become an outright ban.