Natural gas extraction to heat your business
An introduction to natural gas extraction
There are three common types of natural gas:
- Conventional gas: This is Natural Gas that is easily accessible as it is trapped in permeable material underneath impermeable rock. Due to ease of access, this type of natural gas tends to be more economical
- Unconventional gas: This type of Natural Gas is more difficult to extract, therefore is less economical. However, new developments are being made to improve accessibility to this resource with the aim of turning this Natural Gas into a conventional gas that is both economically viable and easier to extract
Examples of unconventional gas: Shale gas, deep natural gas, tight gas, coalbed methane, gas in geo-pressurized zones, methane hydrates
- Biogas: This type of gas comes from decomposed organic matter such as food waste, dead animals and excrement. Natural gas is extracted from these materials using a combustion process called anaerobic digestion.
Methods for natural gas extraction
There are only a few methods in which we can extract natural gas to convert into energy for homes and businesses:
Hydraulic fracturing (Fracking)
This controversial Natural Gas extraction method is effective, but can cause potentially devastating side effects such as water contamination and earthquakes.
Hydraulic fracturing consists of drilling wells into the earth’s crust to access pockets of Natural gas. Water, sand and chemicals are then injected into the well to create pressure and force the gas to the surface where it is captured and transformed into the energy that we use in our businesses and homes.
The UK creates over 20 million tonnes of food waste each year in the food services sector alone. Anaerobic digestion gives this waste and other decomposing organic materials a purpose as it is a process in which this waste is turned into useable biogas.
Biogas consists of the following: 60% Methane, 40% CO2 and traces of Hydrogen and Hydrogen Sulphide.
This is the process for creating biogas using food waste:
- Gather organic waste, oils and grease
- Transport the waste to a local Bio Gas plant
- Mix the sludge with Bio solids (the nutrient rich organic materials remaining from sewage treatment)
- Feed the slop to micro-organisms that excrete the biogas
- Collect the gas. Then the remaining materials can become fertiliser so waste is minimal.
What happens before a company can explore for shale gas?
It is estimated that there are over 2.5 million fracking sites worldwide. There are several stages that a drilling company must go through in order to gain access to a new natural gas extraction site:
What happens before natural gas extraction can be carried out?
- The gas exploration company need to secure a petroleum exploration and development licence (PEDL) from the Oil and Gas Authority
- Consent for an exploration well needs to be given by the landowner
- The Environment Agency will then assess the risks of the site including potential effects on local water source, air quality and waste management
- Planning permission is then sought from local authorities, who also take into consideration the opinions of local people
- Designs for the drilling site are then reviewed by specialist inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive to ensure that they are safe
- A final set of OGA checks are carried out to make sure appropriate measures have been taken to prevent any potential seismic activity
- When all of the above is complete and permits are secured drilling can commence
How natural gas extraction affects the cost of business energy
There are many factors that affect the cost of your business energy. A big contributory cost is the extraction of the energy, which in turn can drive up consumer prices. Therefore it only makes sense for natural gas extraction companies to assess the potential cost of their activities by asking questions like the following:
Is natural gas extraction economically viable?
Conventional gas is more easily accessible, therefore more economically viable. However, when debating whether to drill an unconventional gas site, it is worth reviewing how much it will cost to access the raw materials before works begin vs the potential yield of the site. This way, gas extraction companies can be more confident that their investment will turn into a profitable venture.
Can natural gas drilling permits be secured?
To gain access to the natural gas extraction site, planning permission must be given. Permission approval can depend on local opinions, what is in the surrounding area, the potential environmental impact, who owns the land etc. It can be difficult and expensive to gain approval due to all of the above, with some permits taking years to be fully processed.
This means that these factors contribute to assessing the economic viability of a new drilling site.
How to keep the cost of your business gas down
Although the cost of gas can be influenced by a number of factors that are beyond our control, there are still things that you can do to reduce the cost of your business gas including:
- Buying energy efficient equipment
- Reducing your business gas consumption
- Ensuring that your current business energy contract is up to date
- Comparing business gas suppliers
Compare business gas prices
Reduce the cost of your business gas by completing an energy supplier comparison. View rates from a range of UK providers and receive expert advice that could reduce your energy spend considerably.
At Exchange Utility, we invest heavily in training our staff to guide you through the switching process and recommend fantastic options for reducing costs for your business – All you need is a copy of a recent business energy bill!
Contact a member of our friendly team on 0800 9777 000 or complete the online enquiry form below.