Coal gas firm Cluff eyes £1 deal for North Sea licences

An energy firm that stoked controversy over plans to drill for gas under the Firth of Forth is in talks to buy stakes in three North Sea licences for just £1 each.

Algy Cluff, chairman and chief executive of Cluff Natural Resources. Picture: George McLuskie
Algy Cluff, chairman and chief executive of Cluff Natural Resources. Picture: George McLuskie

Cluff Natural Resources has signed heads of terms with Verus Petroleum over the proposed acquisition of up to a 25 per cent interest in the licences, in the central North Sea and Moray Firth.

The licences – two of which are “effectively drill ready” – are operated by Parkmead Group. Cluff said that the oil and gas explorer has estimated the licences have the potential for 400 million barrels of recoverable oil.

Cluff, which had intended to create the UK’s first deep offshore underground coal gasification (UCG) plant at Kincardine in Fife before shelving the plans earlier this year, is initially seeking to buy a 5 per cent interest in two licences in the outer Moray Firth, with the option to increase its stake to 25 per cent within nine months. It also has the option to buy a 25 per cent interest in a central North Sea licence.

“The consideration for the proposed acquisition and for the option agreements shall be £1 each,” the company said.

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Chairman and chief executive Algy Cluff added: “We are delighted to have been able to take advantage of the current circumstances in the North Sea which have seen a number of very high quality exploration and appraisal assets become available at low or even no cost.

“These proposed acquisitions complement our existing five licences in the southern North Sea, which demonstrated significant gas potential and represent the first steps to creating a diversified portfolio of exploration and appraisal assets. Our objective now is to complete the acquisition process and begin working with our new partners to fully appraise the significant production potential of these exciting assets.”

Aim-quoted Cluff had claimed that its £250 million UCG scheme in the Firth of Forth could have generated £603m for the economy and created 1,000 jobs. But it has announced in January that all spending on the project has been halted, blaming a Scottish Government moratorium on the technology.