AVANT-MONTS FRANC- COMTOIS PER

Valuating the strategic resources of Franche-Comté locally

THE PROJECT IN BRIEF

Following bibliographic research and encouraging preliminary field measurements, 45-8 ENERGY considers that the Jura foreland area, located in the Doubs department (25), is a promising prospective area for helium, in association with non-combustible gases (nitrogen and / or carbon dioxide) highlighted by several drilling carried out in the 1960s and 1970s.

In order to deepen the geological knowledge of the area and precise the helium and carbon dioxide contents, 45-8 ENERGY applied for the "Avant-Monts Franc-Comtois" license to the Ministry of Ecological Transition, a ​​306km² area located in the north-west of the Doubs.

License perimeter is voluntarily large in order to comprehensively understand the geology of this particular region with objective to reduce it at later stage once most promising areas have been spotted. The ultimate goal is, if the production potential of these gases through small size production units.

If application is granted and hypotheses validated, a joint valuation of helium, carbon dioxide and any other valuable resource is targeted in order to feed locally and in an eco-friendly manner two high demand markets.

The application was requested for a period of 5 years in order to progressively deploy the exploration program on the entire permit.

THE FRENCH EXPLORATION LICENSE (PER)

Is issued by the French State
after completing a specific process.

Is limited to one or several specific resources, over a defined scope and over a limited period.

Is guaranteeing the exclusivity to its owner over the defined period.

Ensures that the operating company has the required skills, fulfills its commitments and respects the environment in which it operates.

THE POTENTIAL GASES

Helium
High helium content have been reported in several wells at short distance from the applied license, in similar geological contexts. In addition, our preliminary field measurements highlighted helium anomalies in the area.
Helium is a strategic resource, especially in Europe which, despite its high consumption, depends entirely on long-distance, complex, expensive imports subject to geopolitical risks and generating a high carbon footprint.

Nitrogen
High Nitrogen content has been encountered in several wells drilled in the area.
Nitrogen is the most abundant element in the Earth's atmosphere, making up about 78% of its composition. Due to this abundance, its attractiveness therefore remains limited and economic valuation unlikely. However, its release into the atmosphere does not represent any risk for populations (inert, odorless, invisible) or the environment (does not participate in the greenhouse effect, already present at high levels in the earth's atmosphere).
Helium and nitrogen have a very strong affinity, the reason why the chances to encounter a significant helium fraction associated to it is high.

Carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide was encountered in association with nitrogen in multiple wells drilled in the area.
Carbon dioxide is essential for the food, cryogenic and firefighting industries. Paradoxically, carbon dioxide is a resource whose supply is now compromised in Western Europe, despite its constantly increasing content in the atmosphere. Due to its high transport cost, adjusting supply and demand through imports is hardly possible.
Local carbon dioxide valuation is therefore a real solution enabling to secure supply in France. An even more eco-responsible and local valuation is also envisaged: waste recycling such as steel slag or brines which could be transformed into construction materials (synthetic carbonates).

Natural hydrogen
Several nearby wells in similar geological formations have reported presence (2 to 5%) of natural hydrogen fraction in combination with the main gas. A similar fraction of natural hydrogen is therefore possible in the "Avant-Monts franc-comtois" applied license.
This resource, even if present at the level of a few percent, could easily be valuated and contribute to a carbon-free hydrogen used 100% locally (the urban area of Besançon being the ideal outlet) .
  • Helium
    High helium content have been reported in several wells at short distance from the applied license, in similar geological contexts. In addition, our preliminary field measurements highlighted helium anomalies in the area.
    Helium is a strategic resource, especially in Europe which, despite its high consumption, depends entirely on long-distance, complex, expensive imports subject to geopolitical risks and generating a high carbon footprint.
  • Nitrogen
    High Nitrogen content has been encountered in several wells drilled in the area.
    Nitrogen is the most abundant element in the Earth's atmosphere, making up about 78% of its composition. Due to this abundance, its attractiveness therefore remains limited and economic valuation unlikely. However, its release into the atmosphere does not represent any risk for populations (inert, odorless, invisible) or the environment (does not participate in the greenhouse effect, already present at high levels in the earth's atmosphere).
    Helium and nitrogen have a very strong affinity, the reason why the chances to encounter a significant helium fraction associated to it is high.
  • Carbon dioxide
    Carbon dioxide was encountered in association with nitrogen in multiple wells drilled in the area.
    Carbon dioxide is essential for the food, cryogenic and firefighting industries. Paradoxically, carbon dioxide is a resource whose supply is now compromised in Western Europe, despite its constantly increasing content in the atmosphere. Due to its high transport cost, adjusting supply and demand through imports is hardly possible.
    Local carbon dioxide valuation is therefore a real solution enabling to secure supply in France. An even more eco-responsible and local valuation is also envisaged: waste recycling such as steel slag or brines which could be transformed into construction materials (synthetic carbonates).
  • Natural hydrogen
    Several nearby wells in similar geological formations have reported presence (2 to 5%) of natural hydrogen fraction in combination with the main gas. A similar fraction of natural hydrogen is therefore possible in the "Avant-Monts franc-comtois" applied license.
    This resource, even if present at the level of a few percent, could easily be valuated and contribute to a carbon-free hydrogen used 100% locally (the urban area of Besançon being the ideal outlet) .

Helium, nitrogen and carbon dioxide are not combustible gases,
they present no risk of explosion or fire.

THE OBJECTIVES OF THE
AVANT-MONTS FRANC-COMTOIS PER

LICENSE EXTENT

The application area covers 306 km² of the Doubs department, spread over 58 municipalities:

Audeux, Avanne-Aveney, Berthelange, Besançon, Beure, Bonnay, Braillans, Burgille, Busy, Chalezeule, Champagney, Champvans-les-Moulins, Châtillon-le-Duc, Chaucenne, Chemaudin et Vaux, Corcelles-Ferrières, Corcondray, Courchapon, Dannemarie-sur-Crète, Decevay, Ecole-Valentin, Etrabonne, Ferrières-les-Bois, Fontain, Franey, Franois, Geneuille, Grandfontaine, Jallerange, Lantenne-Vertière, Larnod, Lavernay, Le Moutherot, Les Auxons, Mazerolles-le-Salin, Mercey-le-Grand, Mérey-Vieilley, Miserey-Salines, Montferrand-le-Château, Noironte, Pelousey, Pirey, Placey, Pouilley-Français, Pouilley-les-Vignes, Pugey, Rancenay, Recologne, Ruffey-le-Château, Saint-Vit, Serre-les-Sapins, Tallenay, Thise, Thoraise, Torpes, Velesmes-Essarts, Vieilley et Villers-Buzon.

The Besançon urban area is not directly targeted.
It has been included in application perimeter for the sake of integration and communication with all stakeholders.
This urban and economic area represents in particular a possible outlet for the resources that can be produced.

THE WORK PROGRAM

The planned work program is of limited extent and will have a very limited and strictly temporary impact on the environment. It mainly involves data acquisitions carried out with portable, indirect equipment, aiming to caracterize the subsurface without any risk for the surrounding populations. It includes in particular:

Consists, using rock samples studied in the field, in representing precisely in a map the geological structures of the area.
Consists in analyzing in the laboratory the composition of small gas volumes sampled from the soil using a syringe and a cannula driven one meter into the ground.
Using a gravimeter (small portable device), enables to measure minor variations of the Earth's gravitational field and to deduce the composition of the rocks in the subsurface.
This method consists in measuring precisely the natural Earth's magnetic field using a drone in order to detect variation in the subsurface geology.
This method consists in generating vibrations of low amplitude at surface which are propagating into the subsurface and being reflected at geological discontinuities.
The reflected waves are then recorded on the surface by previously deployed geophones ; processing of the recorded data then provides a real "echography" of the underlying geology (faults, geological layers).
Drilling is the only method which can physically assess at a given location and depth the presence of helium.
Lasting a few weeks, it allows to describe the underlying rocks over several hundred meters.
All equipment is removed once completed. Such method is also commonly used for water boreholes, currently more than 53 000 in France !
  • Consists, using rock samples studied in the field, in representing precisely in a map the geological structures of the area.
  • Consists in analyzing in the laboratory the composition of small gas volumes sampled from the soil using a syringe and a cannula driven one meter into the ground.
  • Using a gravimeter (small portable device), enables to measure minor variations of the Earth's gravitational field and to deduce the composition of the rocks in the subsurface.
  • This method consists in measuring precisely the natural Earth's magnetic field using a drone in order to detect variation in the subsurface geology.
  • This method consists in generating vibrations of low amplitude at surface which are propagating into the subsurface and being reflected at geological discontinuities.
    The reflected waves are then recorded on the surface by previously deployed geophones ; processing of the recorded data then provides a real "echography" of the underlying geology (faults, geological layers).
  • Drilling is the only method which can physically assess at a given location and depth the presence of helium.
    Lasting a few weeks, it allows to describe the underlying rocks over several hundred meters.
    All equipment is removed once completed. Such method is also commonly used for water boreholes, currently more than 53 000 in France !

WHAT'S NEXT?

The work program of the "Avants-Monts franc-comtois" application aims to assess the feasibility of a gas production project. What follows therefore depends on the results that will be obtained.

If the results are encouraging, a first production phase will be launched, similarly as what is being done on the "Fonts-Bouillants" license in the Nièvre department.

If this pilot then validates the viability of long-term production, the final infrastructures will be of small size, equivalent or even smaller than an agricultural warehouse. It will reconcile industrial activity and respect for the environment through an innovative co-development, the use of state of the art eco-friendly technology and, if the area allows it, the rehabilitation of an old industrial site.

AN ENVIRONMENTALLY ENGAGED PROJECT

The project led by 45-8 ENERGY aims to be eco-committed and a vector of ecological transition. In particular, it will make possible to supply French companies with helium through a short and simple supply chain, thus reducing European dependency on long-distance importations carrying an heavy carbon footprint.

Carbon dioxide which could also be associated with helium in the gas mix might be managed in an eco-responsible way through to mineralization. It would allows the recycling of steel slags and brines of the region, which are being accumulated and whose storage represents a large footprint on the ground, into new construction materials.

Finally, the potential fraction of natural hydrogen can easily be valuated and thus participate in the production of local and 100% carbon-free hydrogen, at a time when 95% of the produced hydrogen is coming from vapor reforming of hydrocarbons, a process that emits a lot of greenhouse gases.