BP and LLNL sign technical cooperation agreement on underground coal gasification

July 11, 2007

At a UCG production facility, air is injected into the cavity, water enters from surrounding rock, and partial combustion and gasification take place at the coal seam face after ignition. The resulting high-pressure syngas stream is returned to the surface, where the gas is separated and contaminants are removed. (Download Image)

BP and LLNL sign technical cooperation agreement on underground coal gasification

LIVERMORE, Calif. –BP and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) today announced they have signed a technical agreement to work cooperatively on the development of underground coal gasification (UCG) technology – the in-situ conversion of coal deposits into fuels and other products.

UCG offers the potential to produce fuels and hydrocarbon feedstock from coal deposits, which may otherwise be unrecoverable. By introducing a carefully controlled supply of air or oxygen through wells into a coal seam, the coal can be reacted in situ to produce mixtures of hydrogen, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, methane and other gases. These can be recovered to the surface through wells and used as fuel for power generation or as feedstock for the production of chemicals and other hydrocarbon products.

The initial two-year technical agreement with LLNL will address three broad areas of UCG technology: carbon management to evaluate the feasibility of carbon dioxide storage underground; environmental risk assessment and management; and numerical modeling of the UCG processes to understand and history match pilot test results.

The technical objective based on BP’s in-house data is for LLNL to provide BP with expertise, model results, new capabilities and insights into the operation and environmental management of UCG. LLNL has been an international leader in UCG technology development and field deployment for more than 30 years and will provide its unique experience and capabilities in advanced computation, engineering, environmental management, and carbon management (including carbon sequestration).

BP has long experience and extensive activities managing and producing coal bed methane and other gas resources, using world-leading technologies and expertise in seismic interpretation, directional drilling and fracturing techniques. In addition to the company’s global reach, BP has extensive major project management experience.

Founded in 1952, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is a national security laboratory, with a mission to ensure national security and apply science and technology to the important issues of our time. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is managed by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.