Australia's first well tests for natural H2 begin as Gold Hydrogen seeks insights on its underground discoveries




Start-up estimates its block of land could have 1.3 million tonnes of hydrogen accumulated under the surface


Australian start-up Gold Hydrogen yesterday (Tuesday) started its first well tests for natural hydrogen in South Australia, after initial drilling at its site on the Yorke Peninsula found “elevated levels” of H2.


The company plans to extract underground hydrogen and helium from the two wells it drilled last year as part of the well testing programme, which will mainly focus on obtaining gas samples for third-party analysis.


From this data, Gold Hydrogen aims to better understand the characteristics of a natural hydrogen and helium reservoir, as well as potential wellbore skin damage from the drilling process, which can then inform future well designs and an upcoming “proof of concept” pilot plant.


While the Australian company notes that it could be several months before final results from the well testing, Gold Hydrogen expects to announce initial results for gas composition from both of its two wells next month.


Initial testing from its Ramsay 1 and 2 exploration wells found natural hydrogen at up to 86% purity, and helium at up to 6.8% of the raw gas.


Gold Hydrogen says its “best estimate” of natural hydrogen volumes across the stretch of land on Yorke Peninsula and Kangaroo Island, for which it holds exploration licences, is 1.3 million tonnes.


While extracting natural hydrogen could be extremely low cost, with scientific modelling suggesting a low-carbon footprint (depending on methane content of the reservoir) compared to other production methods, real-world data is still extremely limited.


So far, only one natural hydrogen resource has been tapped, in a village in Mali, west Africa, where it is burned — unseparated from other gases — to generate electricity.


However, results from an as-yet-unpublished report from US government agency the US Geological Survey (USGS), previewed at a conference last month, suggest that trillions of tonnes of H2 could be found in underground reservoirs — which could meet the world’s demand for hundreds of years.



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