On the evening of Weds 15th July an unknown number of activists superglued the doors of oil and gas consultancy firm Belltree Ltd in response to their collaboration with Cluff Natural Resources and the development of Underground Coal Gasification in the Firth of Forth.
Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) is a highly experimental technology involving burning coal in place underground and then capturing the gas released for use at the surface. Cluff Natural Resources is the latest project of oil and gold tycoon Algy Cluff who prides himself on being the "man who opened Africa up to investors". Cluff currently holds 8 Deep UCG licenses in the UK including the 'Kincardine' license which covers 3,687 hectares of the Firth of Forth stretching from the Kincardine Bridge to Boness.
Existing examples of UCG testing around the world have so far yielded a catalogue of disasters, putting human and animal life at risk. Three recent tests in Australia led to their plants being shutdown: after just five days of burning at a well at the Cougar Energy Plant in Kingaroy Queensland the well exploded leaching benzene and toluene into the groundwater and later into the fat of grazing animals living at the surface.
The Scottish Government's moratorium on unconventional gas extraction currently doesn't include UCG, which gives Cluff and Belltree the green light to start experimenting with this risky and unpopular technology in the Firth of Forth. Planning applications in Kincardine may come as early as November.
One activist involved was quoted as saying that they will continue to work to shut down anyone working with Cluff or other UCG projects.