Frequently Asked Questions
Q1: What is the difference between Verso Energy’s multi-stage digestion technology and CSG?
A1: CSG involves the extraction of existing gas reserves from coal seams, typically through fracking and removal of groundwater to release the gas.
MCC is a process under which microbes are applied to the coal seam in order to liberate soluble forms of carbon for transportation to the surface. At the surface the carbon solution is treated to extract methane under controlled conditions, with extracted water treated and returned into the ground to repeat the process. MCC does not involve the extraction of gas from coal seams, and does not involve fracturing coal or removing large volumes of groundwater.
Q2: Can the microbes escape into the environment?
A2: The MCC microbes require specific environmental conditions to survive. These conditions do not exist within the coal seam, and so Verso Energy must modify the bore hole in which the microbes are applied to ensure the correct mix of nutrients and pH are available. Should the microbes move away from the bore hole, or should Verso Energy cease to amend the conditions, the microbes will be unable to survive.
Q3: Are the microbes harmful to humans?
A3: No, the microbes are not pathogenic, meaning that they do not cause disease or infection in humans. They are similar to many other microbes that occur naturally within soil or water.
Q4: How big will the pilot be, and how far into the ground will the bores be drilled?
A4: The borehole network will consist of two vertical bores approximately 200m in depth, located 500m apart. These vertical bores will be connected by a horizontal bore to create a circulation loop. The above ground treatment plant will consist of a few shipping containers and storage tanks, along with a gas collection and closed flare system. The total footprint of the above ground plant is approximately 50m x 25m.
Q5: If you will be flaring gas will this lead to a fire risk at the mine?
A5: The pilot plant is located on the Eastern Overburden Dump, a disused section of the mining lease area approximately 2 km away from the operating mine. The flare used to burn gas will be enclosed, consisting of a vertical combustion chamber that eliminates any visible flame. Because the flame is enclosed there is no thermal radiation from the flare at ground level, making it safe to work around and vastly reducing the risk of ground fires. The area surrounding the flare will be cleared of vegetation and layered with gravel.
The volume of gas generated from the pilot is expected to be low. This will enable gas to be captured and stored for flaring at an appropriate time. The flare will not be operated during high fire risk periods. Verso Energy will operate the flare in accordance with GDF Suez fire management procedures and protocols.