HC Deb 24 June 1977 vol 933 c617W
Mr. Michael Latham

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what is the estimated level of coal resources under the North Sea; what research steps are being taken to exploit this capacity by remote control mining; and what level of financial and staff resources is currently being devoted to this research.

Mr. Eadie

Classified reserves of 382 million tons of coal are known to exist under the North Sea in deposits accessible to existing collieries. Exploration for oil and gas during the last 15 years have shown the existence of additional deposits at depths greater than 4,000 feet, but insufficient information is available for an assessment to be made of these reserves.

It seems probable that the winning of coal from the deep deposits in the North Sea will require unconventional technologies centred upon remote mining and control or upon in-situ conversion. The possible application of these technologies has been the subject of a special research study, just completed by the NCB. Although not directly aimed at North Sea exploitation, the results will be directly applicable. The NCB is currently considering the case for expanding its long-range research as a result of that study.