ASX-listed Gold Hydrogen’s bid to prove a large natural hydrogen field exists in South Australia is entering its key phase – approval has been given for test drilling.

Gold Hydrogen’s drilling rig on the road to its South Australian hydrogen test site.

The South Australian Government Department for Energy and Mining’s final approvals today (Oct 10) means Gold Hydrogen can immediately start its hunt to show near carbon-free hydrogen exists naturally in the Earth’s sub-surface in commercial quantities.

The approvals immediately had major media outlets like The Australian covering our plans to drill within the next 24 hours, the first such play in Australia.

Gold Hydrogen was formed after geologists uncovered nearly 100-year-old records from oil and gas drilling tests on the Yorke Peninsula. The tests found hydrogen at about 90% purity, but hydrogen was of no commercial value back then.

Armed with the historic data and with hydrogen becoming a key component in Australia’s drive to reach net zero emissions, Gold Hydrogen, which listed on the ASX earlier this year, has moved quickly in its bid to be the first company to prove low-cost natural hydrogen exists in Australia.

Internationally recognised SLB (formerly Schlumberger) and Savanna Energy are leading the drill program for Gold Hydrogen.

The first well to be drilled, Ramsay 1, is adjacent to the historic well where the tests more than 90 years ago showed hydrogen. A second site in the PEL 687 tenement area will be ready for drilling next month.

Gold Hydrogen managing director Neil McDonald said the company was grateful for the support it had received from stakeholders and the pace at which the SA Government had moved to enable exploration.

“The South Australians have moved faster on hydrogen than anyone,” Mr McDonald said. “As you can imagine, there is huge excitement in our team as we try to be the first in this country to discover natural hydrogen.”

The natural hydrogen phenomenon is relatively new, with a small town in Mali already powered by natural hydrogen, and major exploration plays underway in Europe, North and South America and in other areas in Africa.

Gold Hydrogen believes hydrogen is continuously produced from the interaction underground of certain rock formations and water. Independent estimates have shown that the South Australian field could hold enough gas to power the city of Adelaide for 40 years.

Getting natural hydrogen from the sub-surface could come at a major cost discount to man-made hydrogen, such as green hydrogen made with renewable energy or blue hydrogen from natural gas.

Mr McDonald said Australia needed projects such as this to succeed to achieve its net zero goals.

“We hope to be part of the solution, and we’ll know in weeks how big an opportunity this is for us, and the country.”

The announcement to the ASX was covered within an hour by The Australian.

Our media partner Proactive also emailed its database with the news.

The approvals came a day after the Australian Financial Review reported Gold Hydrogen’s plans, in a special hydrogen publication.