Gerwyn has spoken several times about his desire to create hydrogen for fuel, extracted from coalbed methane. He has given evidence to Parliament – he has been the main ambassador for gas in Wales.
We have yet to meet him, but
we can discern:
- He says fracking has been around in the UK for 50 years or more, so what’s all the fuss?
- He also says “don’t worry, we’re not going to frack”
- He won’t rule out fracking on the exploration sites in the future
- He explores for both coalbed methane and shale gas (despite often saying initially he’s only looking for coalbed methane)
- He reckons there’s enormous reserves of gas
- He uses a lot of scientific and engineering arguments
- He’s been waiting for a coalbed methane / gas revolution to happen for two decades
- He was introduced to Australian Eden Energy by the Welsh Development Agency. Coastal and UK Methane went shares with Eden’s UK subsidiary Adamo Energy on PEDLs in South Wales and Soemrset
- In February 2016, Eden Energy sold all its UK interests to Gerwyn’s UK Onshore Gas for £1 concluding that the “size of the resource is not proven”, leading for the Welsh media to ask if it meant the end of fracking in South Wales
- His investment company, Infinity Energy SA, trades on the London Stock Exchange but is based in Luxembourg, a tax haven.
- Gerwyn’s registered office is now at Guardian Global Technology, a Welsh firm that makes and hires infrastructure equipment for the oil and gas industry and has worked with global fracking giants Halliburton and Schlumberger
- For his South Wales and Somerset operations, he has used a geologist called Oliver Taylor to front his public meetings.
- Two other names regularly crop up in his companies – Bruce Vandenburg (lives in Berkshire) and John Killer (Suffolk). Vandenburg also runs a fracking investment firm Noble Rock, and Killer a seismic test firm, Sigma
- Since the ‘dash for gas’ began in 2011, he’s made the news as the “Prince of Shales” (The Sun) and as a “serial Welsh energy entrepreneur” (The Guardian).
In this timeline of Gerwyn Williams and his business entanglements, the following text colour code is used:
(Black) for Gerwyn’s general business
(Red) concerns John Killer
(Green) concerns Eden/ Adamo Energy
(Orange) concerns Global Brands SA/ Infinity Energy SA/ Gas Exploration Financing Ltd
(Blue) concerns Guardian Global Technologies / EPI-V
Born in 1950 (so that makes him 65 or 66), Gerwyn Llewellyn Williams came from a family of miners – he followed his father down the pit, St John’s Colliery in Maesteg, the same pit where his grandfather was killed in an underground rock collapse.
One month after the year-long miner’s strike , St John’s was shut by British Coal. Gerwyn continued working for British Coal. As the mines began to close one by one, opencast corporations such as Celtic Energy moved in to opencast, while Gerwyn promoted both private deep mining and methane (coal mine and abandoned – from old mine workings, as well as Virgin Coalbed Methane).
Gerwyn appointed director of UK Wind Energy Limited
It seems Gerwyn has been waiting for his gas ship to come in for quite some time, perhaps starting here?
Gerwyn appointed director of UK Gas Limited – his other directorships at the time are listed as UK Mining Contractors Ltd, UK Coal Ltd and UK Consolidated Mining Ltd
“I have been in unconventional gas for 20 years in the UK. I worked for 22 years for British coal. We had our first licence in 1993 for coal bed methane before British Coal as it was then was privatised…”
Registered as company secretary of Maxim Machines Ltd (which later became UK Onshore Gas) his occupation was listed as ‘electrical engineer’, he was based at Newton, Porthcawl, and he declared seven directorships, including UK Gas Ltd.
Maxim Machines Ltd became Modal Mining Aberbaiden.
Maxim Technology founded (becomes Guardian Global Technology in 2004)
Modal Mining Aberbaiden became Drew Campbell Energy Limited
Gerwyn appointed director of UK Methane, South Wales Gas, Coastal Oil and Gas, Transgas, Thistle Gas and UK Water Supplies Limited
Geologist John Killer appointed director of UK Gas Limited
In 1998 its address changed to an office in Llandarcy, Neath. At some point, Gerwyn became the sole Director while Jonathan Williams of Cardiff became company secretary.
August: Director of Unity Mine Limited (resigned June 2009)
In September 1998, another name change and change of address for Drew Campbell Energy Ltd (originally Maxim Machines): now Campbell Oil and Gas Limited and based at the Innovation Centre in Bridgend Science Park. The company described its business as extraction of oil and gas, but filed as a dormant company.
Global Brands SA – which Gerwyn would later become chairman of – established in Luxembourg (none of its original directors remain)
In 2000, Shelagh Rose was listed as a co-director of Campbell Oil and Gas Limited, along with Whiteley Trustees, based in Jersey, and Jonathan Williams and of course Gerwyn. The same year, the company moved back to Llandarcy, Neath.
September 8: PEDL licence 100 originally granted (up to anticipated date of September 8, 2031) – later taken up by Eden/ Adamo Energy.
In May 2002, Campbell moved offices again to Kenfig Industrial Estate, Margam, near Port Talbot. Its accounts from the previous year showed it was £107 in debt. Now in July 2002 Gerwyn bought 87 of ordinary £1 shares in the company while the remaining five shares were bought by London-registered Sigma Exploration Ltd.
[Sigma is the seismic testing firm headed by John Killer, who Gerwyn is still connected in business with… for more on these connections, see further down]
In September 2002, Campbell changed its name to UK Onshore Gas Limited.
Guardian Global Technologies founded.
Gerwyn founds St John’s Vision
In 2004, UKOG’s Annual Return showed shareholders were Gerwyn (90 ordinary £1 shares), Shelagh (1) and Jonathan Williams (1), Sigma (5), Whiteley Trustees (1), and also Abacus (C1) (2), based at the same St Heliers, Jersey (offshore tax haven) address.
October 2014: In the 12th Onshore Licensing Round (licences potentially run until 2035): PEDL 148 (north of Swansea) and PEDL 149 (Neath) granted to UK Methane Limited
December 2004: Appointed director of Abbey Mine Limited. Resigned July 2009.
2005 Global Brands SA begins trading on the London Stock Exchange (AIM). Its main business is Dominos Pizza outlets in Switzerland.
January: Seven Star Natural Gas Limited incorporated in 2005 and based in Bridgend as a subsidiary of UK Methane Limited, with Gerwyn and Shelagh as directors, apparently taking on ownership of CBM PEDLs in Derbyshire (which ran out in 2006). Horizon Mineral Handling Limited and Horizon Mining also established by Gerwyn (he resigned as director in 2009).
July: Gerwyn becomes director of Centreclear Limited, Ocean Coal Limited, Unity Power Distribution Limited and Unity Power Supplies Limited. He resigned from all in July 2009.
September: Topex Limited incorporated by Gerwyn – has net assets of almost £30,000 in September 2014
“Whilst it may be true that the Swiss have not taken to Pizzas, it is too early to write off your investment, although it is a concern that the company’s stores are only operating at 60% of capacity during the first half of 2005. The annual results will tell us whether this business is viable, be patient.”
Share investors chat (Global Brands), 2006
John Page Killer (of Beccles, Suffolk) joins Seven Star Natural Gas Limited as a director.
There are, however, still vast untouched coal resources in the UK that represent a significant energy resource. Increased awareness of the potential for clean energy from coal seams, advances in technology and recognition of the environmental benefits has seen a revival of interest in the potential to release some of the energy value of UK coal via alternative, non-mining technologies such as coalbed methane production and underground coal gasification. If successful, these could supplement declining conventional UK natural gas production. The utilization of clean energy from coal seams is supported by the UK Government through its Cleaner Fossil Fuels Programme.
There is some activity in this field already. Methane is being drained from most of the remaining deep mines and utilized as fuel for electricity generation or on-site boilers. Drained gas that is not utilized is conventionally vented, but at one mine this gas is now flared to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Methane is also being produced from abandoned mines, but the present low electricity and gas prices have adversely affected its economics. For the longer-term future, there is potential for virgin coalbed methane production and underground coal gasification. The UK has coalbed methane resources estimated to be in the order of 2.9 × 1012 m3 CH4. However, the limited exploratory drilling for coalbed methane in unmined areas undertaken to date has not led to commercial production – the major barriers are perceived to be low seam permeability, drilling and completion costs, together with planning and access issues. Initial research suggests there is very large potential for underground coal gasification providing the environmental and perceived safety issues surrounding the application of this technology can be overcome.”
N. S. Jones, S. Holloway, D. P. Creedy and K. Garner: Can UK coal resources contribute to a gas renaissance, Geological Society report abstract, 2006
December: Gerwyn appointed as director of Unity Power PLC. Resigned in July 2009.
Given that Wales has substantial amounts of coal and copious amounts of Coal Bed Methane and that development of Coal Bed Methane reserves provides good geotechnical information for future coal mining operations, it is our view that some government funds ought be spent securing security of fuel supply for Wales for the foreseeable future.
Government aid is really required in the following sectors:
— Research into Combined CBM, underground mining, deep underground coal seam gasification and CO
— Combined exploration techniques including 3D seismic.
— Hythane utilisation for road vehicle fuel.
— Research into liquefaction techniques so that stranded gas can be transported by tanker from remote sites.
— Uprating of electricity infrastructure, (Currently overbooked by potential wind farms that may never get planning permission).
— New coal tip gasification technology (USA—Brian Barrows EIN).
— Improving rail infrastructure for existing and new coal mine infrastructure.
— Improving port facilities for coal handling, particularly export.
Other Subjects of Concern:
— Preservation of mining skills—New training facilities required.
— Preserving Welsh coal reserves in Wales (Corus going to Brazil or India).
— Around 2000 new jobs could be created in a new mining/power generation sector.
January 2007: Memorandum submitted to the House of Commons Select Committee on Welsh Affairs by Unity Power Plc, described as an amalgamation of Horizon Mining Limited and Chian Resources Plc, an Australian owned company. The combined company is soon to be listed on the Alternative Investment Market of the London Stock Exchange with a market capital planned around £50 million [no evidence this took place]. Gerwyn Williams is director of Horizon (drift mining and “clean” coal power stations planned) and UK Onshore Gas.
GERWYN WILLIAMS: From a gas or methane coal bed point of view, we have had no problems [getting planning permission]. We have had something like 28 out of 29 applications approved. They have gone through the necessary channels very quickly, I would say – six to eight weeks. I have given a thought to the Welsh Rural Planning Association, and we get help, if anything, from the planners in that respect. As far as deep mines are concerned, when we have had preliminary talks with planning authorities they have been quite receptive towards the prospect of new deep mines…
… Mr Williams: It goes back to what I said earlier, that I think it is a mixture and we need to quantify the resource we have. It is difficult – and John is an international banker (?) – to go to potential investors and say: “Please give us £30 million just to look at what is there”. If there is nothing suitable there it has gone.
Q188 Nia Griffith: Do you think there is a role for —-
Mr Williams: There is a role for joint funding for exploration purposes, to establish what the resources are.
Mr Davies: I totally agree with that.
Mr Williams: Secondly, there has been a lot of success with a company called Composite Energy in Scotland recently, which I think proves the point for coal and methane, certainly in South Wales, because Dr Cready, who is probably the UK’s expert on coal bed methane, in his calculations put South Wales top of the league for potential coal bed methane production. There is huge scope. For example, when we talked about reserves earlier, we usually talk about those reserves that are left around closed British coalmines. Our petroleum licences in South Wales cover 430 square kilometres, the bore holes that we have from British Coal are about 24 in total, and they prove somewhere in the region of 20 to 28 metres of coal, plus associated sandstones. If you just take 20 metres of coal and take one square kilometre, the specific gravity of coal is 1.35, on average, so it means that in one square kilometre there is something like 27 million tonnes of coal. If you multiply that by 430, it is 11 billion tonnes of coal. Opencast mining and deep miners probably will not be interested in a lot of that, but wherever there is coal, and it might be a very small, thin seam, the energy is there, either in the coal or in the associated sandstone. So we should, I think, be investing money as a nation to look at what we are sitting on.
Date uncertain, but likely to be 2007: Gerwyn Williams introduced to Australian company Eden Energy by (now-defunct) government-business interface quango the Welsh Development Agency [Source: Frack Free Somerset/ Transition Keynsham]. They formed a partnership, which lasted until 2012, then began to fall apart. It culminated in February 2016, with Eden Energy dumping the shares in its remaining South Wales PEDLs and whole UK subsidiary for £1 on Gerwyn, declaring the potential for shale gas and CBM, associated risks and costs not worth Eden’s continuing investment.
May 2007: Eden Energy (UK) incorporated by Cardiff-based 7Side Secretarial Limited (although 7Side Secretarial files its accounts as a dormant company for this period). Its director (appointed on May 18, while 7Side resigned) is solicitor Gregory Solomon, based in Western Australia, and secretary is financial controller Raymond Bascall, also based in Western Australia. Eden Energy, based in Perth, Australia owns all 1000 ordinary £1 shares.
Eden Energy (UK) changes its office address from the Cardiff law firm to the same as UK Onshore Gas (Margam, Port Talbot) (while still being wholly owned from Perth, Australia).