An innovative drilling project in South Tyneside needed our collaborative approach to create a revolutionary energy centre in the local community. Emma Haggart, Senior Well Engineer, was part of that team.
The Hebburn Minewater Project will provide a renewable source of heat for public sector buildings in the town of Hebburn. These include high-rise flats and supported living accommodation and the local shopping centre, with water from the disused mine on which Hebburn sits being the key component.
Vysus Group, the local council and external specialists, joined forces to commence the drilling of the geothermal well - crucially ensuring that the operation would have as little impact on the surrounding community as possible, especially as the site is in the heart of the town. One particular issue we looked to address was minimising any vibrations and noise caused by the drilling of boreholes, using our applicable oil & gas knowledge.
Taking the skills from oil and gas, such as risk assessments and surveying, has been key to this project and its safe implementation. The same knowledge can be used in explaining to the wider community that whilst there will be a level of disruption over the course of the project, but there will be tangible benefits to come off the back of it.
The energy centre at Hebburn will become operational in 2023. But that doesn’t mark the end of the project. Further councils across the region are starting to take note of its potential and are exploring how the disused mines in their own constituency can be repurposed as renewable heat generation facilities.
For me, this is what collaboration is all about; learning on all sides. Projects like Hebburn will help a lot of people’s lives going forward, and even the ex-miners in the area have been excited to see future work in their local community. And I myself have learnt new skills, including what a geothermal well project entails in comparison to a gas well, which I have based my career around.
Hebburn has also revealed that without the skillsets from years of oil & gas, the technology being used within the renewables sector would not be possible. The systems, processes, and the very foundations that we had been using for years are adapting in much the same way we ourselves have had to in recent months. That is where collaboration has a pivotal role.