(EnergyAsia, June 2 2011, Thursday) — Australia’s Cougar Energy Limited said it has opened an office in Beijing to expand its underground coal gasification (UCG) projects in China and Asia.

Kevin Garner, a chartered engineer with over 25 years of industry experience, has been appointed general manager for Asia, with responsibility for technical and operational aspects of executing the UCG projects with Cougar Energy’s technology provider, Ergo Exergy Technologies Inc.

A China resident since 2003, Mr Garner has worked for the international consulting firm Wardell Armstrong and the Australia-listed clean energy developers Sino Gas and Energy and Sindicatum Carbon Capital. His experience and contacts also extend to Indonesia and Mongolia.

Mr Garner’s experience includes assessing UCG technologies for transfer to China and UCG projects in Europe in the late 1990s.

Cougar Energy said it has also appointed Alyssa Liao as commercial advisor. Ms Liao has broad experience in China-market entry and strategy consulting, having opened and led Natexis Pramex Asia’s Shanghai office. More recently, she has been a private banker with UBS and HSBC focused on Chinese ultra-high net worth clients, managing relationships with Chinese entrepreneurs and executives.

Ms Liao is fluent in English, Mandarin and French, and holds an MBA from HEC School of Management in Paris, France. She will be based in Shanghai and will work with Mr Garner to facilitate the joint venture arrangements with Cougar Energy’s present and future business partners in China and the region.

Cougar Energy is awaiting the registration of its first project in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. Upon approval, the company said it expects to start work shortly on site characterisation and construction of a pilot plant.

Cougar said it is also assessing potential projects in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region with partner Limitless International Holdings Pty Ltd, and in Mongolia and Indonesia.

Len Walker, Cougar Energy’s managing director, said: “The establishment of this local technical and commercial presence is essential in building and maintaining strong working relationships with our partners and government authorities in China.

“It is vital to insure project success and a key to all aspects of risk management. This is an important milestone in our focus to commercialise UCG in Asia.

“China will continue to rely on coal as its major source of energy generation for several decades. Cougar Energy and its local Chinese partners are positioning themselves to meet the requirements of provincial governments for lower emissions solutions in new coal projects.”